In a period when we have been spending more and more time at home with our families, it may be challenging to feel emotionally connected. Working from home, virtual learning, grieving losses, and many other experiences that we are currently facing are mentally and emotionally exhausting! And that exhaustion can have a way of making us snap quicker, raise our voices, or just feel like we are not meeting the bar as a parent.
So how do we build or maintain that connection with our kids when it feels impossible? Here are some quick tips to help foster the connection between you and your child:
- First off, you are not alone in this feeling! Being a parent can be very challenging. It can be especially hard when life is throwing all the curve balls. Simply reminding yourself “this is hard, I am a good parent, and I can handle this” helps regulate the mind and body to put you in the right head space to help connect.
- Validate! This is such an important and simple way of letting kids know that you hear them and want to understand them. There is so much uncertainty right now for our kids. As resilient as they are, they need to know that they are important and that their feelings matter. “I can see how frustrated you are about school, this is really hard” or “of course you’re sad you can’t go play with your friends, it really isn’t fair” are two examples of identifying their emotions and letting them know it is okay to feel what they are feeling.
- Along with validating, instilling a felt sense of “goodness” reflects to our kids that we believe they are good. Why is this important? If children think that they themselves or their feelings are “bad” then their ability to feel like they can change or be “good” is weak. This can sound like, “you are a good kid having a hard time right now” or “you’re having a tough time with this and I love you no matter what. It’s okay to struggle.” These reaffirming statements let our kids know that they are not bad for expressing or having emotions, making a mistake, or struggling to learn something new.
- Lastly, remember that no one knows your child better than you. Finding small moments to make connection by engaging with your child in something they enjoy, validates their natural interests and personality. A few minutes of reading together, coloring, listening to them talk about their favorite video game, going for a walk, or anything that allows you to be present shows your child that you are there for them, and that they are important to you.
In this time of quarantine and emotional and mental exhaustion, finding connection with your children will help them cope. Allowing yourself to feel the closeness that can come from these quick tips can also help you feel relief from mental and emotional burnout. You’ll find your temper lessened, your patience increased, and a deeper sense of success as a parent.