Connecting with our children is hugely, and mutually rewarding. ‘Felt’ love is very different from our children simply hearing the words, “I love you”. Love in its concrete form buoys our children to be more confident in themselves and their place in the world, as well as modelling interactions that nurture others. We feel lifted too when time is spent genuinely engaged in something together, rather than just making requests and giving instructions.
What is real connection?
The thing about real connection with our children is we can’t fake it. Connection requires presence and children are astutely aware if we are tuned in and ‘with’ them or if our focus is elsewhere. They see our distracted glances, notice our heads buried in our phones and gauge the time it takes us to respond when we are creating grocery lists in our head instead of listening to their questions. They know when we are not ‘there’, but to really nurture our relationship with them, being there fully is crucial.
Many of us feel we are juggling constantly, with busy schedules and competing demands on our time – our children, work, household demands, committees, the need for our own time and the list could go on and on.
Is it worth our time?
Taking time to be with our children doesn’t fit our picture of achieving something, and other things feel more pressing. If we didn’t write time with our children on our to-do list we can’t cross it off, which for some reason makes it feel less important. The truth is we do have time, we just need to make it, and the secret to making the time is understanding its worth.
To really nurture our relationship with our children, having times of pure focus with them is crucial.
Conversations, playing a game, reading a story, changing a nappy – the activity isn’t as important as the fact we are all there, and not multi tasking our presence. You do have time for this because what you’ll discover is that even short times do wonders.
Our children actually don’t want or need us 100% of the time.
It may feel like it on occasion, but we bet you can recall times each day when your child is happy pottering about with some task they’ve set and are totally oblivious to you.
The emotional fuel tank
They are able to engage in something because their ‘tank’ is full, and this is what full, focused attention does for them. Time spent really ‘with’ us fills them up so they then have the capacity to be independent, before circling back to you again. Once we understand this, we can add connection to our list of priorities. We’ll see it only appears that our child wants us incessantly if they never actually get the whole of us.