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How To Connect With Your Kids

Categories: Baby Talk, Kid Matters


By Amanda from Kickyboots

I don’t know about you, but parenthood has been more challenging than I ever thought it would be. Everyone always rants that “it’s the hardest job in the world” but I guess I thought they were being melodramatic. Turns out they weren’t. And nothing has pushed me to the brink of insanity, frustration and tears more powerfully than my (dearly beloved) children.

Our eldest child is what one might call “difficult” and as she neared her third birthday I was about ready to box her up and FedEx her to Antarctica. I was at such a loss as to how to parent her, how to discipline her, how to help her grow up to not be a total jerk. Just when I was ready to throw in the towel and inquire about boarding schools for toddlers, I heard about a book called “Connected Parenting” and I don’t hesitate to say that it has transformed both my daughter and my will to live. Here are the steps we’ve taken to connect with our kids:

1. Read the book “Connected Parenting”.

It is geared towards parents of challenging children but the concepts outlined in it are worthwhile for all families. I have never read a book that so resonated with me and gave me the empowering hope I was so desperately looking for. I first borrowed it from our local library, then bought it for myself shortly thereafter.

2. Turn off the TV and computer.

We had become entangled in a vicious circle that went like this: the kids were acting up and driving us bonkers so we’d feel like we need a break. I would bury my face in the laptop and turn on the TV for the kids so they’d be out of my hair, but then they’d start acting up even more because they were hungry for quality attention and connection. Then I would get even more frustrated and want to run for the hills. My husband and I have become more aware of our time online and have been closing the laptop, turning off the television and truly being present.

3. Look Through Baby Photos Together.

This is one of the ideas in “Connected Parenting” and it really creates a feeling of love and connection. Pull out an old scrapbook or photo album with pictures of your child and sit together, looking through them, remembering things they did as a little baby. Kids just eat this right up and love it!

4. Eat Meals Together.

We totally suck at this but in the past couple months have been making a real effort in this department.

5. Lower Your Expectations and Look For the Little Things.

You don’t need to plan a big, extravagant outing to connect with your kids. Whenever I’ve tried to create a perfect and fun experience, the kids inevitably take a proverbial dump all over my dreamy expectations. Some of the best times we’ve had with our kids have happened when we take a moment out of the everyday routine and focus on playing with them: an impromptu round of hide-and-seek, chasing them around the living room, or doing a ridiculously embarrassing puppet show with our talking hands.

How do you connect with your kids?

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10 comments so far...

  • I can totally see the appeal for kids to #3. My kids, especially the oldest who has tendencies of anxiety and insecurity more than the younger, are constantly asking to hear, again, the stories of the day they were born. They love to hear about it. They love to hear how exciting it was for us. It definitely helps them feel connected.

    And if there is one thing we do right around here, it’s definitely sharing meals together. I reccomend it to any family who wants to connect together more.

    Thanks for the post. I’d be interested in reading that book. We are total suckers for tv, internet and videogame time. All of us. Not our strong area, that’s for sure.

    Danica Grunert  |  January 6th, 2010 at 7:35 pm

  • I think I might take a look at that book - it sounds like it’s got some good ideas, and our oldest is a bit of challenge too!

    I too agree that #3 is a great tip! We have the scrapbooks out at kid height, and I have a “favourite photos” slideshow running on the laptop screen saver that will often stop the 4 year old in her tracks - she’ll sit down and watch, commenting on all the family and friends and the places that we’ve been. I love reinforcing her memories with photos!

    I definitely need to be better at enjoying the little moments - I haven’t done very well at sitting down to play with the girls and appreciating those moments, but I’m trying!!

    mrsgryphon  |  January 7th, 2010 at 3:24 am

  • Great advice Amanda!

    Kristin  |  January 7th, 2010 at 2:56 pm

  • My son won’t sit still for TV long enough for me to crack my computer. If I do happen to crack it, I am greeted with crazy hands attacking my keyboard. However, when we first get home, I like to change my clothes and put all of our lunch containers away and my son runs around like a madman because he wants attention and/or clings to my leg. Lately, though, he has figured out to come up to me, grab my hand and say “Come on, Mommy” when he wants me to sit with him at any other time and I usually comply because he’s so sweet about it. He loves looking at pictures of anyone he knows, especially our family and its pretty cute. The dinner thing…well, I try but its hard with my husband getting home so late and us being so hungry.

    Oceans Mom  |  January 7th, 2010 at 4:15 pm

  • Great ideas in this post. It’s funny how parents get so caught up in the latest ‘fad’ parenting that we forget the basics! Another way we connect is by doing things in the same room, but not the same thing. We have a small playroom that is also my scrapbooking space. So I work on my hobby while the kids play sometimes with each other, sometimes beside each other. Every now and then someone pauses and says ‘hey, watcha doin’?’. It helps us talk to each other.

    Amanda Franks  |  January 8th, 2010 at 10:55 am

  • My children are aged 15 to 4. I find that if we are all in the same room, doing WHATEVER, it usually becomes a family love session. ( I credit the youngest, he can charm us all into a FAMILY HUG, even his grouchy older sister)

    I love the idea of shutting off the computer. I’m so much more productive if I have a schedule or time limit to be online.  |  January 8th, 2010 at 6:52 pm

  • Dude. You RULE.

    Mrs. Wilson  |  January 11th, 2010 at 3:36 am

  • “When a child is acting out, most parents respond with tough discipline, but in the long run that can actually escalate a child’s cycle of misbehavior. So how can parent’s get control? CONNECTED PARENTING Jennifer Kolari”

    I disagree. While discipline without love is poor parenting, love with discipline is just as damaging. A parent’s prime job is to carefully balance the two. Dr. Spock’s methods simply don’t work. That has been demonstrated again and again over the past five decades. Even Dr. Spock agrees with this assessment.

    My example is a daughter I have raised by myself, from the time her mother died, almost fourteen years ago. I often found myself wanting to sell her to the circus, as she went through ’stage’ after ’stage’, with no rest between, but, on the other hand, I wouldn’t miss one single day of the constant frustration, and guileless love she showed me. I had to carefully balance the need to allow her to find her range, with the need to rein her in.

    I had to learn to control my own rather violent temper or risk harming her, and as I was both mother and father to her, I had to nurture and discipline her at the same time. Although I spanked her as needed, I tried to keep that as a last resort. I also praised her achievements, and successes. I never let a day go by that i didn’t tell her ‘I love you’ a dozen times or more.

    As a result, my little girl is now a healthy, happy fifteen year old, who works at the high-school nursery as part of her classes, and wants to be a teacher.

    Financially, it was a horribly difficult time for us. The cost of burying her mother and unborn brother beggared me, and my credit rating will forever be in the toilet. Since I am male, the state of California consistently denied me assistance until I was able to invoke federal laws. Event then, such assistance was fitful at best, and I had to ‘prove’ I needed it. On the other hand, she learned to enjoy things that weren’t flashy or expensive, and I believe that not only stimulated her learning, but also provided a good moral foundation.

    While there are those who believe in allowing children the unfettered freedom to do as they want, in order to not be seen as ‘mean’, I believe strongly that a child should look up to their parents with love, respect, and a little fear. A parent is a child’s first teacher, first example and first authority figure, and should BE all that. A parent must be willing to back up a promise of punishment no matter how politically incorrect it may seem. That is a parent’s job…to raise the next generation as best he or she can.

    Oh, BY the way, I grew up severely abused, by those who should have nurtured me. As a result I have done exactly the opposite of what they did.

    David L.  |  January 12th, 2010 at 5:34 am

  • I said Love with discipline. I meant Love WITHOUT discipline.

    David L.  |  January 12th, 2010 at 5:37 am

  • Thanks for sharing your story, David. It sounds like you have gone through incredible hardship but both you and your daughter have thrived thanks to all your hard work and love.
    If you read the entire book you will see that Jennifer clearly discusses the need for boundaries and consequences and that it’s not about letting your child always have his or her way. The main thing is letting your child know you understand how they feel, but the parent is still the ultimate authority and children both crave and require healthy limits and boundaries.

    Amanda Brown  |  January 14th, 2010 at 5:15 pm