Today’s lifestyle is focused on electronic connections. The amount of screen time has exploded along with the information age. Studies show that teens spend approximately nine hours a day in front of screens. Kids aged 8-12 get about six hours of screen time each day, creating a society that is being raised in a digital environment.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one hour a day in front of screens for children aged 2-5. However, meeting that healthy goal is challenging. The technology explosion means that connecting with your children is more important than ever. Without a strong foundation of parental connection, your kids won’t be able to develop the ability to love themselves, and eventually others.
Why Connecting With Your Child Is Important
The only way to build a truly strong relationship with your child, so that you have the ability to guide them as they grow older, is through positive, steady connections. Affirmative interactions are essential for healthy development, but there are some days when just taking care of your child’s basic needs is all you can do.
Since parenting, for most, takes place usually after a full day’s separation, building daily habits of connection can enhance and solidify your relationship with your child. Taking time to connect with your child also minimizes stress and other behavioral problems.
Habits That Create Connection
Hugs. Snuggling and hugging your child is a great way to build connection. Virginia Satir famously said that four hugs are needed for “survival” each day, eight for “maintenance,” and 12 for “growth.” Prioritize hugs in the morning before your children leave for school, when they get home, and a number of other times each day.
Nix the technology. Your child will remember if you gave your full attention or just listened with half an ear. Dropping everything else when you interact with your child demonstrates how important he/she is to you; much more important than a phone call or email from work.
One-on-one time. Every day, schedule 10-15 minutes with each child. Play a game, talk, or go for a walk. Don’t structure the time, let it be a personal time to connect.
Slow down. Every interaction is important. Let your daughter crack the eggs for the cake or smell a fresh-cut lemon you’re using to make homemade lemonade. Look your son in the eye when you talk to demonstrate that you’re listening and that you care.
Bedtime snuggle-time. No ritual is better for providing regular connection than a bedtime routine. Reading, talking about their day, and snuggling give your children a sense of belonging and security. Don’t rush through it.
When you connect with your children every day and in a number of ways, you’ll gain benefits too. The relationship you build will establish positive returns. When your kids become teenagers, they’ll be able trust your guidance and will actually want to follow it. Plus, the connections you generate will provide lifelong memories that bind your hearts together in beautiful love.
By Deanna Cupo. MSW