I often work with children and teens in my profession, and in doing so, along with having two children of my own, I have discovered two things that can help improve the connection with a child. I have found that owning up to your mistakes, and entering your child’s world are incredible ways to show genuine love and deepen connections. At times I do a good job with this and see my connection with my girls improve, While other times I struggle and succumb to my weaknesses. I have found that when I turn to God for help I am capable of being who He wants me to be for my children, humble and selfless. I know He can do the same for you.
Own up to your mistakes: If you have caused your child pain, either directly or indirectly, and you don’t own up to it, connecting will be very difficult to do. If someone else hurts your child and you ignore it, you are indirectly Causing him or her pain. Even if you do everything else right, your child wants to hear you take responsibility and apologize for pain your choices have caused them. This shows genuine love and care. It proves that you can set aside your own pride for the sake of your son or daughter. Honestly, to me this is critical! Not only does this show that you are willing to admit your fault and share regret for pain you’ve caused, it also teaches him or her a valuable life lesson that will help in their future relationships.
Avoid excuses like the plague. An excuse voids your apology and relinquishes responsibility to someone or something else. Your child wants to hear you share sorrow and regret for your wrongs, not an excuse for why you did what you did. When I lose my patience with my daughter and react poorly I tell her how sorry I am and that my reaction wasn’t okay. She always responds well and forgives me! What if I said, “I’m sorry I reacted poorly, but it was because you were acting up.” Does this apology mean anything? Not at all. (This works the same in marriage). I can sometimes be the queen of excuses so learning this has been a challenge for me, but with God’s help I am improving and connecting better with my family as a result.
Think about your own life, are there things you wish your parents took responsibility for that they didn’t? How would you have felt and how different might your connection to them have been? Admitting your faults to your child doesn’t make you appear weak, it shows your child what humility and honesty looks like (James 5:16). PS: It’s never too late to do this by the way! No matter how much time has passed, doing this can make a world of difference for your child.
One last thought on this point. Don’t believe the lie that your child is resilient and can handle pain without recourse. Every child wants to be accepted and validated. All children are effected by pain and need to know you care. An amazing way to do this is by acknowledging hurts and taking responsibility.
Enter their world: the world of a child is drastically different than that of an adult. Its easy to want our children to enter our world because that’s what we are more comfortable with. Showing our kids that what matters to them matters to us is a big way to deepen our connections with them. Maybe coloring, doing puzzles, pretending to be a prince or princess, having tea parties, watching super hero movies, doing crafts, going on roller coasters, playing ball in the backyard, or reading books about dinosaurs isn’t interesting to you, but doing these things because your child loves to do them will greatly improve your bond. This was challenging for me as a new Mom, but with dedication and God’s help we can overcome our weaknesses in order to be the parents God desires us to be and connect well with our children.
This point is especially important with teenagers. Maybe you would say that your teen isn’t interested in doing things with you or doesn’t talk to you. Have you hurt him or her in some way? Take responsibility for the hurt you have caused first. Maybe you have and your teen still acts uninterested. This is a normal part of being a teen, but don’t let it scare you away. Instead of asking just plan a surprise outing to your teens favorite place. I promise this will make a difference and will show genuine interest. Over time your connection will begin to deepen.
When you connect on a deeper level with your child it’s easier to be aware of what’s going on in his or her life. Your child will feel safe, secure, and trusting, and will be willing to share thoughts and feelings with you. When they do, be careful to validate those feelings even if you might disagree. Entering your child’s world means taking them seriously. Instead of putting down their feelings try putting yourself in their shoes. This is another way to enter their world and improve your connection.
Thanks for reading!