“Respect is earned.”
I totally agree! It is the same when it comes to connecting with our children.
My children certainly did not magically connect with me purely on the basis that I was the person who had given birth to them.
Connecting with children requires time, effort and commitment.
What does being emotionally connected to our children mean?
Children who are emotionally connected to their caregivers trust them and feel safe whenever they are around the caregiver. These children also feel comfortable and secure enough to just be themselves in the presence of the caregiver, knowing that they will not be judged no matter what they do.
When I learned about the significance of emotional connections between parents and children, I became determined to be the emotional pillar for my sons, and to create a safe space for them whenever I am in their presence.
I want my boys to connect with me, trust me and come to me with their feelings, regardless whether they are feeling happy, sad or frustrated.
Why is Emotional Quotient (EQ) being widely touted to be important? High EQ is one of the factors that contributes to a child’s resilience.
Emotionally connecting with your children now will help you nurture your children to become adults with stronger Emotional Intelligence.
Here are 5 things that I believe is important and has worked in strengthening the emotional connection between myself and my children.
Sounds simple, but honestly, this would be the most difficult for many of us to master.
As a mum with a million tasks to complete, I constantly remind myself to put aside all electronic devices and chores whenever my children need me, no matter how big or small their requests are.
It could merely be a simple request to take a look at their drawings or creations. Let’s think about it this way — my children are sharing their happiness with me, I am the person they choose to share their happiness with. Isn't that amazing?
I admit, it is exhausting and requires plenty of patience, especially when I am home alone with them and there are tons of chores to do.
Meltdowns and tantrums are actually a way for them to communicate to us that they are having trouble dealing with thes big emotions.is thought always comes to mind whenever I feel tempted to stop them from talking or dismiss them when they approach me.
When a parent-child connection is broken, it is very difficult to repair it and it takes much more effort to heal and restore the relationship.
LISTEN, EMPATHISE AND ACKNOWLEDGE
Children’s brains are not yet fully developed, so they are unable to process and make sense of the many big and intense emotions they often feel. These emotions may be a small matter for adults but are completely new and strange for young children.
Meltdowns and tantrums are actually a way for them to communicate to us that they are having trouble dealing with these big emotions.
If you pay attention, you will notice children are constantly giving us cues and signals. I always make an effort to identify and listen to my boys’ cues. Here is an examples:
You are greeted with a meltdown when you get home after a tiring day at work. Your child is probably trying to tell you one of the following:
“Mummy, I missed you.”
“Mummy, did you know that I was so scared when you were not around, and I wasn't sure if you were ever coming back?”
“Mummy, I want to be with you all the time.”
I respond to their cues by showing empathy and acknowledging their feelings. How I respond should tell my children that it is absolutely normal and acceptable for them to experience these feelings.
I also use this opportunity to introduce new vocabulary to my children to express their feelings.
Examples of phrases I normally use:
Are you feeling frustrated because you didn’t get to see mummy the whole days?
I totally understand how you feel. I would feel the same if I were you.
You look upset. Are you feeling upset because your brother took your things without your permission?
Remember, there are no good or bad emotions. Just as adults feel a variety of emotions, children experience the same. They simply do not know how to deal with them yet.
The most important thing is to let our children feel safe and secure enough to express their feelings and eventually learn to handle these emotions.
GROUND AND CONNECT WITH OURSELVES
Before connecting with my children, I make sure that I connect with myself first. We have to take care of ourselves before we can help others.
When I am grounded, I often have plenty in my emotional reservoir to stay calm, collected and patient to help my children in their daily life. If I can’t handle my own emotions, how am I going to help my children?
Taking a break, no matter how short of a break that is can be very rewarding. When I do not have the luxury of a long break, even as simple as walking away for a few minutes and taking a deep breath, reminding myself of all the good things I have in life and returning with a sense of gratitude helps me stay grounded.
BE A ROLE MODEL
We cannot teach our children, we model it.
I express my feelings intentionally in front of my children. I let them know how I feel in a certain situation. I tell them why I feel a particular way and I take the effort to explain how I would do things differently the next time if I ever faced the same situation again.
For instance, I love cooking and baking but not every attempt is successful. There was a time when I baked scones but it failed terribly. I told my boys that I was very upset and frustrated. I also told them that the reason it failed, because I missed out one step in the recipe and that I aim to try again and make it successful the next time.
Expressing feelings out loud in a positive and encouraging way is a constant effort. It may take a long time before young children are able to grasp what you are doing and use it to express how they themselves feel.
However, your continuous effort will help your child take the big step in his life feeling secured and confident.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Similarly, building a good solid relationship with children takes time and effort. In that we have to ensure we stay consistent and firm in our believes.
I make it a habit to connect with them first thing in the morning. No matter how rough the morning was or how time-pressed the morning is, I take time to have simple conversations and asked them about their sleep and how they feel.
After every separation period, I make it a priority to re-connect with my children.
I believe that consistency is the key in developing strong bonds with my children, and it is even more crucial when they are very young. Young children get confused easily should the adults around them are not consistent.
Building trust and a strong emotional connection with our children takes time, requires effort and a deep commitment.
There will be times when it can get too overwhelming. When that happens, start asking yourselves these questions:
Can the chores wait?
Are my children’s emotions and needs more important than the current task?
Is building a strong relationship with my children important?
Answering these questions help me see my priorities and decide on my action.
To all parents out there, it is never too late to start.
Start the CONNECTION today and let our children know that we are their NO 1 FAN.
Zoey Siow is a parent-child connection expert and mum of 2 active boys. Taking a huge career leap this year, Zoey let go of her high-paying corporate 9-5 job to be full-time with her boys.
Now, she’s working on her passion to help parents who want to unleash their children’s full potential but have no idea where and how to start. She’s determined to empower parents to connect and bond with their children in a fun, engaging and non-time consuming way.
Get connected with Zoey now via www.zoeysiow.com