Parenting is possibly the most rewarding and simultaneously most overwhelming of jobs. Daily efforts of teaching, training, correcting, nursing wounds and hurt feelings are just a small part of the job. Though it may seem difficult to recognize these moments as rewarding and positive, they are often the salve that helps us begin each new day with hope.
Creating joyful moments in today’s very busy world does not need to feel overwhelming. Fifteen minutes to an hour per day spent with a child, has proven to strengthen the bonds between a child and their parent/caregiver. Research shows that children who have a secure attachment with their parent/caregiver have more desire to comply with or simply ‘mind’ their parents, due to that special relationship. And as an added bonus, securely attached children are happier and more confident.
How do we create special moments and help my children along the way? Here are a few tips:
Be Present and Connect
Show up for your child. This may likely mean that you need to put your phone, work or other distractions down. Give 100% attention to your child sometime during every day.
Carve out 15 minutes a day to spend one on one with your child. Allow the child to take the lead. No directions or critiques during this special time. Let them know you see them and have a desire to spend time with them beyond the regular business of parenting.
Hug your child. Physical touch is great for connection. Stay in tune with your child’s needs and emotions in this area. Some children crave multiple hugs a day, where others may feel overwhelmed and would benefit more from a squeeze on the arm, a touch on their shoulder or a ruffling of the hair. But try the hug!
As much as you are able, be with your child during times of transition. Before and after school, daycare, extra-curricular activities, being with friends, etc., are all transition times. It is important that you are available to your child at these times. Their demeanor and emotions can tell you a lot about what they experienced while away. A caring parent/caregiver can help regulate emotions at these moments, giving support and encouragement, as well as a soft place to land.
Be aware of your own emotions. Our moods can influence patience levels and reactions. Allow children to have emotions. Listen to and believe that their experiences are real to them.
Allow your child to explore and experiment. Sometimes it is hard when you want to protect you children, or fear for their safety. Manage your own anxieties and allow your child to gain confidence as they try new things. A toddler may feel ultimate pride as they successfully jump off of a small rock, and a teen might know they are trusted when they take out the car for the first time alone. Love your child for the person they are and let them know it.
Creating and savoring the moments that make parenting joyful are well worth the effort. Smile at and with your child as you play, laugh and experience together. The roughly 900 weeks we get to spend with our children pass quickly. Enjoy the moments!