If you’ve ever thought, “Why can’t I connect with my child?”
Here are four simple – but important – ways to connect better with the kids in your life.
Connection creates cooperation, so if you want to have more harmonious and respectful relationships (and homes!), then read on to discover more specific activities to help you connect with your children.
By the way, I got a lot of these ideas from my training with Dr. Becky Bailey, the creator of Conscious Discipline. She and her team are pretty amazing and have taught teachers and parents around the world how to build more emotionally healthy relationships.
The acronym B.E.S.T. stands for Breathe, use Eye contact, Smile, & Touch.
“B” Breathe and set a daily goal:
You may have heard of serotonin, the chemical in our body that helps with mood, attitude, and sleep, and digestion, among other things. Making (and keeping) a daily goal each morning at breakfast helps create a pattern – remember the brain is pattern seeking – and also helps you achieve MASTERY which can improve your mood by giving you a “hit” of serotonin! A daily goal gives you and your child focus. And when you keep it, the serotonin levels in your brain are raised. Bonus!
Here are some examples of daily goals:
Today, I am going to eat four servings of fruits and vegetables.
Today, I am going to am going to follow directions the first time.
Today, I am going to clean out the garage/organize one closet/run the vacuum/dust the family room.
Today, I am going to use kind words/gentle touches/take turns with my brother and sister.
Today, I am going to play outside for 30 minutes.
Today, I am going to read two chapters in my book.
Write your daily goals where others can see them to help support and encourage you!
If you make your daily goal at breakfast, dinner is a great time to check in with your kids – and yourself! Ask, “How did you do?” If they met it, we can encourage our children further by saying, “You did it! You met your goal today! Way to go!” And if they (or we) didn’t, we can say, “hmmm I wonder why that was hard to keep today? Is there something I can do to help you keep your goal tomorrow?” This is NOT a time to berate yourself (or your children)! Only Jesus is perfect so we are NOT going to meet our goals every day. However, making these daily gives us a focus AND a chance of keeping them being more likely. Do you see the potential for connection and relationship building in this activity?
“E” make EYE CONTACT and recall your Job:
Making eye contact is very important to help connect with others. And recalling your ultimate job out loud: “My job is to keep you safe and your job is to help keep it safe” keeps everyone in the higher centers of their brains. When we are functioning in the higher centers, we feel safe, loved, and have access to our brilliance! Remember, the brain functions optimally when we feel safe. So breathing and making eye contact while recalling your job – and theirs – helps everyone cooperate rather than compete.
“S” SMILE and have regular routines:
We know that routines create patterns, the brain seeks patterns and patterns create predictability which creates SAFETY. Whereas adults frequently think and process with words, children (under the age of about 8) think in pictures. This means that IMAGES GUIDE their behavior. It is the reason we want to tell children what TO do rather than what NOT to do. If you say, “Stop jumping on the couch!” The image in their mind is jumping on the couch! I heard a parent once dropping off his son at the child care where I worked. He bent over and said, “Remember son, no hitting, no biting, no kicking, no scratching….” Well, what do you think that kid was thinking about when he walked in the door? RIGHT!? Instead, we want to give them pictures of what TO do and this matters in routines – it helps to have a picture schedule to help guide their behavior so they know what is coming next.
“T” TOUCH and connect with children frequently:
We need BOTH the predictability of regular routines AND the rituals of touching to connect with children. Dr. Becky Bailey has a wonderful book called, I Love You Rituals in which you can find many connecting rituals that take nursery rhymes and give them a positive spin.
Do you remember the rhyme, “There was on old lady who lived in a shoe? She had so many children she didn’t know what to do. So she gave them all broth without any bread, spanked them all soundly and sent them to bed!” Let’s do it differently with our children!
Here’s how Becky Bailey does it: “A Wonderful Woman, lived in a shoe, She had so many children she knew exactly what to do. She held them, she rocked them and tucked them in bed! I love you I love you is what she said.”
Here’a another one: Little Miss Muffet. Rather than the spider frightening her away, it goes like this: Little Miss Muffet, sat on a Tuffet, eating her OATMEAL today. Along came a spider and sat down beside her and said, “We’re gonna have a great day!”
Using these strategies help you bring out your B.E.S.T. (as you Breathe, use Eye-Contact, Smile, and Touch) as you connect with your children – and connection creates cooperation – while encouraging them to bring out THEIR BEST as well! Doesn’t that sound better than how we have been doing it?
Check out this 10 minute video from Kate explaining the concepts in this article:
ConnectPointMoms helps you create stronger relational connections with the children in your life. This starts with being aware of your own stuff so you can BE PRESENT with your children in the moment you’re in, and then knowing and using the best ways to communicate with them! For quick, helpful parenting videos, find “Kate Connects” on YouTube or join the Connect Point Moms Facebook group to find encouraging supportive moms struggling through it all together!