When your child wants to show you something, take the time to be fully interested in it. Giving them 5-10 minutes of your time may not seem like much, but will mean the world to them. If the chance doesn’t present itself, then make it happen. Invite yourself into their world.
Sometimes it can feel that you only get a chance to see your child when they’re not at their best: bedtimes, homework, busy after-school clubs, sports. Try getting outside with them, either at the park or in your garden. You can make it a family thing or just keep it one-to-one, but breaking out of daily or weekly routines offers you a great way to connect.
There’s little wrong with having a dance, even a silly one. Your child will see your playful side. If you’re not a great dancer it’s a nice way to show them that you’re not perfect at everything but that you still have a go and have a fun time.
It may not always be possible to read with your children, but when you are able to make time really enjoy the experience of being close and sharing a book together. If you’re reading to them, make it fun by using different voices. You’ll be surprised how they then find their own different voices and want to try them out. It adds a lovely creative element for them.
Being present is as simple as listening to what they say. Take an interest in what they are explaining to you. Ask questions. Explore your child’s world and you’ll get to know them on a deeper level. Unless asked for you don’t need to make it about giving advice, so enjoy the pleasure of listening.
Ask them questions about their day, and listen to the answer. You could ask them at bedtime or at dinner what the best part of their day was; what did they enjoy the most? And in reverse, what would they like to change about their day. Perhaps take it that one step further and ask them what they could do differently – have fun editing the experience to see what other choices could be made. It’ll help them develop acuity to consider options in life.
Drop the needle and crank it up. Ok, so maybe you don’t get all their musical tastes, but find songs you do like together and have fun. Turn the volume up in the car, or while you’re cooking. Kids love seeing you act silly and having fun and they’ll get involved and see you as person not just as a parent.
If your child likes it, gentle and fun tickling is a great way to bond with your kid. They’ll associate fun and laughter to you and when it’s been a tough week it’s a quick happiness fix that says you’re still there.
Sofa, film, blankets. It’s simple, it’s fun and it’s together. Enjoying a film all snuggled up is another way to share an experience with them. You could make it a special event on a particular day so it’s something to look forward to. However you arrange it, it’s an easy way to be with your children and spend a few hours together.
Go cook or bake together. Choose a recipe that they can actively participate in and see how much fun you’ll have. Give them some responsibility too and they’ll not only enjoy it but will learn about weights and measures. It can even be something as simple as making a sandwich together.
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Ben Jackson is a registered counsellor, coach, and lecturer with nearly 10 years of professional experience. He helps clients with stress and anxiety, anger management, self esteem, confidence, and depression.
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