Making a meaningful connection with your child is one of the most impactful steps you can take toward purposeful and powerful parenting. Thankfully, connecting with kids though not always easy, is simple.
A healthy parent-child relationship is full of joy, communication, and closeness.
My goal for this article is to provide you with 15 of the most powerful ways to connect with your child daily to make the most of each moment.
This list will give you practical things to do and say throughout a typical day.
There are some connecting with kids steps that take more effort, but we’ll talk about those another time. Today is all about the tender moments in the day in the life of mom and child.
Connecting With Kids in 15 Powerful Ways Everyday
#1. Wake Your Child Up with a Smile.
Mom sets the mood for the entire day. The old saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” grows from roots of truth.
You are primarily responsible for the majority of the work at home. That can feel like a lot of pressure somedays. One of the very best, and simplest, things you can do to give both yourself and your child a good chance at a great day is to make it a point to smile at your child the first time she sees you for the day and greet her with a cheerful, “Good Morning!”
You don’t have to “feel” it when you say it. Sometimes we have to speak things as though they were before they actually are. Just smile and say it.
#2. 10/15 Hugs a Day
For older children schooling outside the home, these numbers may seem high. You can easily fit 10 hugs a day in for a school-age child or 15 hugs in for a younger or homeschooling child.
For instance, upon wake up (1) a small squeeze as you pass by your child eating breakfast (2) a hug before going to school (3) a hug first thing after school (4) a squeeze or kiss on the forehead during homework (5) a big hug after finishing homework (6) a back scratch or squeeze while walking in somewhere during errands (7) a hug before dinner (8) an arm squeeze when she’s putting her plate in the sink (9) and a big big hug before bed (10.)
For a child at home with you, those, plus as many more as you can fit in, can be dispersed throughout the bulk of the day.
When purposefully connecting with kids, children need physical touch for emotional well-being and proper mental health! Provide as much as possible!
#3. I’m Glad You’re My Son/Daughter Once a Day
Tell your child, “I’m so glad that YOU are my son!” Or “I’m SO glad that I get to be your Mama!”
There are a lot of families in the world, with a lot of kids. As your child grows up, he’ll become aware of his short-comings.
As grown women, you and I both know how damaging insecurity can be.
You can take great strides to help your child develop a tethered sense of self and security with herself and the family by verbalizing that YOU are happy SHE is YOURS!
#4. Connect During Change
Be mindful and aware of your child’s emotional state during change. From the small changes and transitions of the day, such as waking up, going to school, or going to bed, to significant life changes such as moving up a grade, making a new friend, or moving, be mindful.
Make sure your hugs at bedtime are a little tighter and last a bit longer. Make eye contact and check in to your child’s emotional well-being.
During the big changes and transitions, put other responsibilities on the back-burner, and engage with your child until you know she is handling the change or transition well.
#5. Do What He Wants for 10 Minutes
With every additional child I had, it became increasingly difficult to make time to spend one-on-one with my children. In the beginning, when my second child was born, it was fairly easy to spend an hour alone with my firstborn while the baby napped.
Once the third and fourth came along, I realized that even finding 5-15 minutes a day to get alone with a child or two (alternating on other days) made a significant impact.
The child I was alone with was thankful for the time, no matter how long it was.
During your alone time, it’s good to let your child decide what he wants to do. Kids don’t feel in control of much, but they need practice making decisions and getting a sense of what it feels like to have control over something.
Doing what your child wants provides both an opportunity for him to make a decision, but even more valuable is that you’ll be showing him that you value what he values.
#6. Make Eye Contact
Make eye contact when your child is speaking to you. From newborn babies to grown adults, making eye contact is good human psyche; it’s also kinda difficult for some people.
Making eye contact with your child when she is speaking to you accomplishes two critical things. She feels listened to and valued, and the habit of making eye contact with other people is formed in her as a result of your example.
#7. Repeat His Words Back to Him
When your child comes to you with a problem, complaint, or frustration, one of the first steps to take to solve the issue is to say back to him, “So what I hear you saying it ______?”
Doing so prevents issues of misunderstanding from arising. Your child can’t say you don’t understand if you do understand, and he knows you understand because you reverberated his exact feelings and thoughts back to him.
He’ll feel heard and understood, even if a solution isn’t easily reached.
#8. Use Her Actual Full Name
We are a nickname kind of family! I mean, my goodness. Each of my children has a handful of nicknames, at least.
Nicknames are fun and special. They are a part of what makes your child unique to your family.
Her name, however, is an important element of her identity. Calling your child Abigail instead of Abi, Joseph instead of Joe, Jennifer instead of Jenny, etc, reaffirms who he/she is.
You chose her full name because you loved it! Use it as much as you use nicknames.
#9. Take Interest
Children so deeply connect with their toys and hobbies that they see them as an extension of themselves. By taking an interest in something your child really likes, you are taking an interest in him.
On the other hand, if you don’t like your child’s favorite toy or hobby, he receives that as though you don’t like him.
That’s a difficult pill to swallow when your child takes an interest in things that annoy you or seem to make no sense. However, the psychology of the matter is real. Kids deeply self identify with their toys and interests.
So, while you don’t actually have to LOVE every single thing that he loves, do take an interest in them. Ask your daughter questions about her favorite doll.
Let your son explain the characters in his favorite cartoon, etc.
#10. One Act of Her Love Language
Learning your child’s love language is one of the most useful pieces of parenting information you can have.
Your child’s love language is the key to showing her love in a way lasting and effective way.
Unfortunately, often a parent can be making great attempts to show her child love, though her child does not feel loved. This happens when mom is doing the things SHE likes to do to show love, though the child feels loved by different means.
Discovering your child’s love language and intentionally doing one thing that speaks love to her heart is more powerful than five attempts to show love in a language she doesn’t understand.
Love language is a valuable piece of info! It can improve everything from connection to correction. In Discipline That Makes a Difference, I lay out the steps to using your child’s love language to discipline effectively.
#11. Share a Story from Childhood
Children love to know about their parents. A child will wear her knowledge of her parents like a badge of honor.
One of the most fun ways to bridge the generational gap of your childhoods is to share stories from yours.
They can be humorous tales, stories of regret (nothing too heavy or mature), vacations you took, sports your played, your experience in school, you name it… your child wants to hear it!
And she’ll never get bored of hearing the same stories again and again.
My husband once got sassy with his mom when he was little and threw a buttered Pop Tart against the wall! It takes 45 seconds to tell that story, and the children have heard if 50 times, but they love it each time daddy says it!
Connecting with kids through childhood stories is sure to bring a lot of laughs!
#12. Talk Positively About The Family
Your family is fantastic. Unique. Set apart. Special. I believe that, and so should you. There is power of life and death in the words you speak.
Talk positively about your family. Say that your family is the best family in the world. And believe it!
You are not doing some imaginary injustice to all the other families of the world when you say that.
You are merely making it known to your child that your family is somewhere you can all be proud to be!
This helps your child feel a sense of belonging and inclusion: two feelings that are necessary for a healthy mental state.
Read more about building family bonds here.
#13. Tell Him He’s a Good Kid
If your child has a bad day, believe me when I tell you that he knows he’s had a bad day. If he’s messed up, no one feels the weight of his mistake heavier than he.
Tell him he’s a good kid, every day whether it feels like it or not.
When he’s had a great day, make a big deal out of it. You don’t have to throw a party or anything, but SAY IT!
When he’s had a bad day, a simple reminder without explanation that you know he’s a good kid will be a salve to his heart.
#14. Say She Reminds You of You
Your child wants to be like you. To a child, his parents hung the moon. Even as our oldest has become a teenager, he still wants to be just like his dad!
Kids will naturally begin to develop independence and want to be distinct from their parents as they get much older, and often look for ways to be different.
But, with the right relationship established, it doesn’t happen until mid to late teens.
Until then, when your child does or says something that reminds you of yourself, express how much like daddy he is. Or how that is something mommy would say.
Doing so will, again, further solidify her tether to you, belonging within the family, and identify, the more she can see herself as part of the whole.
#15. Be Present
Connecting with kids requires presence.
With housework to do, a spouse to emotionally support, and all the various demands of life, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of simply existing through the days.
Unfortunately, each day that passes is a precious piece of childhood you’ll never get back.
All of the steps I’ve included in this list can be made into habits. Habits, once formed, require no real effort. They just happen.
By connecting with kids every day and making as many steps to connect with your kids into habits as possible, you’ll be present for your child. Being present is the key to a sincere connection and meaningful relationship.
Furthermore, your relationship with your child is the only real influence you have in her life. It’s worth investing in!
Emotionally Attach to a Child
Secure attachment is the basis for a healthy mental and emotional state. The research on the benefits to emotionally attach to a child agree that a properly solidifies secure attachment is what tethers a child to her parents.
Intentionally connecting with kids is the first step to securely attaching them to you. Once securely attached, they’ll come back to you as their home base for years to come.
That is exactly what you want when your child is a 16-year-old trying to navigate the treacherous waters of being a teenager!
Connecting Strengthens Your Relationship with Your Child
Put yourself in your child’s shoes. Think of a time when your spouse did or said something that made you feel connected. Chances are your relationship sailed for a while as a result of that purposeful connection.
Your child has a heart that needs nurturing, a mind that requires stimulation, and a soul that needs tending.
When you strengthen your relationship with your child by connecting with your kids regularly, those needs are continually met.
Don’t overthink it. Just make the effort. It will absolutely be worth it!