August 5, 2019
Why Knowing How to Connect with Your Kids is so Powerful
Written by Rachel Eddins
Parenting styles may vary widely over the years — and from culture to culture. The variations are far too numerous to detail but some common threads exist. One of the most important and enduring foundations involves connections. Healthy parenting involves discovering how to connect with your kids and how to maintain a secure and strong connection.
Building a Secure Connection
Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine. He is also the founding co-director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, executive director of the Mindsight Institute, and author of several books. One such book is the New York Times bestseller, “The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind.”
Siegel is a leading authority on how parents can foster a secure attachment with their children. The basics of Siegel’s ideas can be introduced via his “four S’s,” e.g. Children need to be:
- Seen. More than physically seeing with one’s eyes, this is more intense and intuitive. Parents must see with empathy, aiming to perceive their child’s mind. Recognize the feelings behind their behavior.
- Safe. Our behavior can frighten or hurt our children. The goal is to avoid such occurrences and create a safe space in which children can grow and learn. Protect your child from harm and do not be the source of fear.
- Soothed. Like all stages of life, childhood involves many challenging emotions and events. It is a parent’s responsibility to compassionately guide their children through such situations. From this, a child can learn to regulate her or his own emotions.
- Secure. Through the above three steps — and other forms of love and support — parents assist their children in developing a personalized, internal concept of well-being. This work is crucial for any child to cultivate a strong sense of self.
With these guiding principles, parents can and will connect with their kids. Everyone involved has the chance to experience and appreciate the power of such a bond. The long-term result is a sense of security as the family baseline.
4 Ways to Foster a More Secure Attachment With Your Children
1. Make Communication Feel Safe and Normal
Kids recognize and understand the power dynamic between parent and child. This makes communication tricky. Committing to healthy communication can break down this barrier and encourage long-term bonds.
2. Practice Mindfulness
Being an adult is hard. Also, being a parent can sometimes feel impossible. Here’s the good news: It’s not impossible and you can learn to stay in the present. In the moment, after all, is where your kids dwell and where they need you.
3. Teach Children to Connect Feelings With Experience
If a child stubs their toe, it can appear truly minor to an adult. To them, however, it can stir many feelings. Discuss this connection with them and let them see how deeply you care.
4. Encourage Tech-Free Time
Younger and younger kids are being baby-sat by phones, laptops, and other devices. Dig in your heels and set limits. Also, create a clear, no-device boundary at dinner. Use that valuable time to connect via a conversation with your child. Get comfortable asking them questions. Give them room to contemplate an answer.
Do the Work to Explore Your Own Patterns of Behavior
We all bring our past baggage into our parenting approach. This can and often does have positive aspects. Of course, it can and will also create obstacles. Many individual parents choose therapy as an avenue toward identifying patterns that impact their relationship with their children. The more you grow and learn, the better equipped you are to connect with your kids. Eddins Counseling Group in Houston, TX, has experienced therapists that specialize in family, teen, and child counseling. Reach out today by calling 832-559-2622 or booking an appointment online.