Feeling Close To Our Children

Ever have a day where you feel like all you’ve done was bark out orders, lecture, and yell? After an incredibly long day, you heave your achy body into bed and remember the twelve things you forgot to do. You flashback to that sweet old lady at the grocery store this morning who told you, “They grow up so quickly” and her friend who added, “I wish I had taken more time to enjoy my children while they were young…” You think, “How can I possibly enjoy any of this? I am in survival mode!” Shuffling your little ones from place to place and making sure they are safe and hygienic is taxing. The to-do list seems to keep growing and the young ones are not the most appreciative of customers. Yet, you start to think, “Am I taking the time to enjoy these children? Am I building a loving and close connection with them?”

Digging through the research of what a close parent/child connection means and how it can best be achieved, we came across the following information. Parents need at least five positive interactions to each negative interaction to maintain a healthy, happy, and close relationship with their child. Yowza! How can we manage to pull that off while guiding children through their daily routine (“Two more minutes until bath time!”), saying no to bizarre requests (“No, you cannot eat your dinner under your bed!”) and correcting negative behavior (“We don’t say that word in our house.”)?

In the frenzied life of a mom, with missing shoes and days that don’t seem to end, it may seem impossible to find time to “connect” through play and laughter. Just getting through dinner is a struggle to keep calm and composed, let alone laugh and talk and enjoy each other’s company. It is so easy to forget how privileged we are to have these adorable little people in our lives, who bring joy as well as destruction wherever they go. So how can we accomplish connection and closeness while tackling the day-to-day parenting obligations?

Be mindful that children of parents who are constantly making the effort to provide love and warmth, combined with guidance and discipline, will feel secure even when the parent is upset or disappointed with them at the moment. They tend to be open to the parents’ ideas and support and often talk things through with them. On the other hand, children who lack positive interactions with their parents and do not feel connected with them will resist guidance and discipline, and may act out from fear of not being loved and accepted. No parent in her right mind would choose the latter, and no parent regrets an extra moment spent playing, singing, and laughing.This time is well-spent and lays the groundwork for a future bond with our children. Some ideas for building positive interactions that lead to closeness are:

  • Hug. Touch. Snuggle with each child when he first wakes up. Children of all ages need physical contact!
  • Have alone time with each child, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day! This can mean enlisting your child to load the dishwasher with you, or bringing him along on an errand.
  • No matter what your child says, empathize – show him/her that you care! All emotions are okay. When you acknowledge how your child feels, you strengthen your connection.
  • Laugh at your child’s jokes (even if they are not even remotely funny)!
  • Instead of constantly reminding your child (yelling?) to keep moving through the morning routine, empower him/her with a chart. Smile and point to the chart, asking him/her to tell you what he needs to do next.
  • When your children fight with one another, listen to both kids without taking sides, throw in a dash of humor and then help them work out a win/win solution.
  • When your child walks through the door at the end of the day, stash your phone in a drawer, turn down the music, and put everything else aside for a few moments. Listen to him/her intently. Show him/her how important s/he is to you.

You may be reading this wistfully and saying to yourself, “Oh, if only I had the time.” And quite possibly you won’t be able to do everything on this list every day with each child. Most of the above activities don’t take much time, and they are sure to make the day go more smoothly.

The next time you heave your achy body into bed after a long day, you will do so with a smile on your lips, remembering the whispers, giggles, and joyful moments.

Muffins- N-Moms is an interactive educational parenting workshop facilitated by Chaya Guttman, LCSW, and Leah Davidowitz, LCSW. Follow @muffinsnmoms_parenting for your daily does of parenting tidbits and humor. muffinsnmoms@gmail.com


The Author