We all crave those close moments with our children that make our hearts melt. Connection is as essential to us parents as it is to our children. When our relationship is strong, it’s also sweet — so we receive as much as we give. That’s what makes parenting worth all the blood, sweat and tears. Parenting is one of the toughest jobs there is and the only way to keep a strong bond with our children is to build in daily habits of connection. Welcome their meltdowns…Sure, it’s inconvenient. But your child needs to express his emotions or they’ll drive his behavior. So accept the meltdowns, don’t let the anger trigger you, and welcome the tears and fears that always hide behind the anger. Remember that you’re the one he trusts enough to cry with, and breathe your way through it. Afterwards, he’ll feel more relaxed, cooperative, and closer to you. (Yes, this is really, really hard. Regulating our own emotions is the hardest part of parenting. But that doesn’t mean we’re excused from trying.)
Connection starts with listening. Bite your tongue if you need to, except to say “Wow!….I see….Really?…How was that for you?” The habit of seeing things from your child’s perspective will ensure that you treat her with respect and look for win/win solutions. It will help you see the reasons for behavior that would otherwise drive you crazy. And it will help you regulate your own emotions so when your buttons get pushed and you find yourself in “fight or flight,” your child doesn’t look so much like the enemy. Just listen. Acknowledge feelings. Reassure your child that you hear her concern, and that together you’ll solve it, tomorrow. The next day, be sure to follow up. You’ll be amazed how your relationship with your child deepens.