21st Century Parenting Masterclass Series: How To Stay Connected to Your Child
Updated: Jun 12, 2019
“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” – Charles R. Swindoll
I recently had the opportunity to attend a masterclass at a local establishment hosted by Dr Wilfred Bock. Dr Bock is a highly acclaimed academic, qualified in Educational Leadership and Management, and has a genuine passion to create opportunities for children, to rise far higher than we ever could on a global level, and thus see them reach their full potential. Dr Bock is also the Executive Head at Curro Waterfall.
This masterclass was introduced to create a community and spark discussion among fellow parents that share the same challenges and will now serve as a platform to converse, exchange solutions and get professional guidance on a wide array of relative topics.
This was the first session and personally, I found it to be extremely valuable and insightful. Whether you have very young kids, adolescents or even those kids battling those ever-painful teenage years, I believe the information emerged, can provide guidance and so I’m so excited to share some of the discussion with you.
I mean, on a normal day, navigating the usual pressures of life can be crazy, and having kids in the mix, makes it even crazier. With that said, as parents we have a huge responsibility to raise our children to be the best humans, they possibly can be. That responsibility unfortunately, does not come with a manual, or a “how to” guide. We basically go with our gut daily and do what we know to be best. Sometimes we may even find ourselves enforcing the same solutions/rules, as was done to us, when we grew up, not realising that the factors of influence and nuances are totally different.
As parents there are times we don’t know where to go for help, or we find ourselves being afraid and embarrassed to ask for assistance. Seeking professional guidance or even just talking about the challenges being faced in a forum like this…knowing you are not alone, is helpful and if we were more open to it and realised it is a good thing, just maybe some solutions you haven’t thought of can surface.
So, “How do we stay Connected to our kids”.
How do we as parents identify the needs of our children, embark on trying new things to make our kids feel more connected to us and how do we stay connected?
Surely love, providing basic needs like food, shelter and being there should be enough. True, but ...
...how can you get inside your child’s heart and mind and cultivate a closeness through each stage of life. It basically starts and ends with communication!
Make every effort to talk to your children. Have a conversation with your kids every single day. Start by sharing stories about their day as an example and give them your attention during that time.
Teach them that things are possible if they ask. As parents, sometimes the word “no” is the answer to everything…. even unknowingly. We know as parents; we need to attend to our children’s basic needs but what about creating opportunities to fulfil their wants. Let’s take a simple example, when we have a guest over, you may ask them what they would like to eat, and you prepare it for them. Have you thought of offering that same opportunity to our children and then making it happen? You don’t have to treat your child as a guest but let them know that asking can also result in a yes.
Communication is pivotal, but communication is not only talking. Children respond to the senses. Younger kids particularly respond to physical touch while older kids want to connect via treating them with respect and eye contact. Learn your child’s lingo and try not to be condescending, especially with older children but aim to always keep it real.
Initiate simple questions to spark conversations. Like, are you ready for the day? I have little ones and I usually ask my kids “how was your day?”, or “what did you do today?”, and when I get responses like “good” “nothing” or the infamous “I don’t know” I change my questions to “so, “who did you sit next to today?”, “oh and what did you talk about?”, and “was that during math or English?”…and they would start to remember stuff that happened and our conversation takes a whole nutha turn! Think about the question/s you ask and the kind of answers you want. Don’t ask closed questions. We don’t want yes or no answers. Ask questions where you know they will have to respond with more than a yes or no.
Connect with your child on an emotional level. Especially when you have multiple children, try to be observant to each ones needs – try learning your child’s love language. https://www.5lovelanguages.com/
Understand that connection in general is good but connecting emotionally especially builds self-confidence – When kids are secure in their connection with you as a parent, they automatically increase in self-confidence. We all want our kids to have a sense of inner confidence and self-worth.
Now with everything in life, one always must choose their battles, and it’s no different with raising children. We cannot fight everything, and we cannot say yes to and nurse the bad habits of our children for fear of “rocking the boat” either. Sometimes we must choose to discipline. When we find the need to discipline, we should do so with wisdom. While it can be a point of disconnect in that moment, make the effort to reconnect and steady forward.
Remember, you are the expert on your child. Be the security blanket your kids need. Don’t shout at them when they need a hug, especially when they get hurt or are in trouble .... let them know its ok and have conversation about it later, and then choose the way forward.
Laugh often, it truly is the best medicine. Never be afraid to laugh with your kids. Creating humour and fun breaks downs walls you may not even know existed allowing you to get through to your child. My view is that laughing with our children is definitely underrated but I believe it can have huge benefits.
Lastly, for us as parents to have a healthy and happy connection with our children we need to have a happy and healthy connection with ourselves and our husbands/wives. Ensure that as parents our own wellbeing’ is priority to ensure we are able to adequately care for our children.
It’s been said that by the tender age of just 7 many kids are already looking for role models, either within or outside the family circle. I don’t know about you but for me, I would hope that my kids can find their role model in me or at least within the immediate family and for this to happen a strong connection must exist. Parents are undoubtedly a pillar of strength to their kids and as such we need to see ourselves as just that, and when the hard days come, do your best and don’t be too hard on yourself…perhaps remember what Sue Atkins said –
“There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, so just be a real one”.