22 Ways To Get Closer To Your Child Today

11. When he has a meltdown because you cut his sandwich wrong, don’t make a new sandwich, but remind yourself that tantrums signal distress, not defiance. Stay close and compassionate so he feels safe enough to cry and empty all those upsets out of his emotional backpack. You’ll all have a much better evening.

12. Help your child feel seen and encouraged by verbally noticing everything they do that is positive: “I notice that you fed the dog without being reminded…I notice how you have been focusing on that homework for fifteen minutes…I notice how kind you were to your sister when she was upset”.

13. Commiserate and encourage as you help her study for her spelling test.

14. Laugh at his jokes.

15. No matter what your child says, empathise. Actions may need to be limited, but all emotions are acceptable. When you acknowledge how your child feels, you strengthen your connection and build emotional intelligence.

16. Spend fifteen minutes of special time with each child, just following her lead and pouring your love into her. This habit alone can transform your relationship with your child. When she wants to use the couch cushions to build a fort, say yes. Let her be the director and tell you what to do.

17. At dinner, ask an interesting question and give each child time to answer while everyone listens. (Here are 250 ideas for questions to ask).

18. Have a short pillow fight before bath time.

19. Empathise and keep your sense of humour when he doesn’t want to stop playing and get ready for bed, even while you insist.

20. Listen compassionately to her long story about troubles with girls in her class, without getting over-excited or jumping in to fix anything.

21. Notice that you’re getting frustrated about getting him to bed, and calm yourself down. Then, reconnect with him and use that warm connection to get him tucked in.

22. Lie with each child for a few minutes in the dark, just snuggling companionably and telling him that you feel so lucky to be his parent. Send her off to sleep with a sense that all is right in her world. 

Time-consuming? Sure. You can’t do everything every day with each child. But most of these practices don’t add much time to your day; they just make it go more smoothly.

And when you create habits like these, kids cooperate more, fight less, and WANT to follow your guidance. You strengthen and sweeten your relationship, every single day. So when you get to the teen years, your child will be open to your influence and might even ask your advice. And that’s better than money in the bank.

Originally published here.

Dr. Laura Markham is the founder of AhaParenting.com and author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings and her latest book, the Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids Workbook.

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