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How to connect with your child each and every day


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Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 04/11/24

I sometimes feel like a whole day has gone by without connecting with one child or another! These things made a difference.

Some of the best parenting advice I’ve ever heard came my way before I even had kids. 

I had accompanied a friend to a workshop at the school where she taught. The speaker had a decades-long career in Montessori education and was offering a sort of “Montessori Parenting 101.”

As the speaker explained various intricacies of the Montessori philosophy while parents rapidly took notes, she suddenly paused and looked directly at her audience.

“The most important thing is that the child knows they are loved,” she said. “If you get that right, don’t worry so much about the rest.”

You could feel a collective exhale around the room, and I took that wisdom to heart, carrying it with me when I became a mother a few years later. Now, a decade into mothering, it still seems like the most important thing to know about raising a child.

Our kids need to know they are loved, so I want to connect in a close and loving way with each of my children every day. 

But with four young children, a career, housekeeping, activities, events, and countless things on the agenda, I sometimes feel like a whole day has gone by without connecting with one child or another!

If you also feel like you need to make a more deliberate connection with each of your children every day, here are 3 things that have made a difference for me.

Reframe the question: Is each child getting what they need?

I’ve realized over the years that I need to lose the idea of things being “equal” for each child, and instead focus on their individual, personal needs. They each feel connected to me in different ways, so I try to avoid a “one size fits all” approach to showing love.

One child, for example, feels loved when we play a board game or card game together, so I’ve tried to incorporate more games and playful competition into his routine.

Another loves to draw and make crafts, so I try to sit down and draw a picture with that child a few times a week, and this is a nice chance to talk and be creative together.

A younger child is in a very giggly stage and loves to be tickled, so we jokingly invented her “daily tickle time” so I don’t forget to play with her and make her laugh, something that makes her feel very loved.

And the youngest just wants lots of snuggles!

Build a daily one-on-one habit

I saw a sweet video in which a young woman interviewed her mom about the daily “window time” they had while she was growing up. The mom would sit down with each child at bedtime to talk to them one-on-one. 

I do something similar with my kids. We call it their “bedtime chat.” I ask them to share with me their “high, low, and buffalo” of the day (code for the best part of the day, the worst part, and something that surprised them that day), or as one child calls it, their “rose, thorn, and caterpillar.” They can also share something they’re grateful for, or talk to me about anything that’s on their minds.

By taking just a few minutes to connect personally with each child before bed, I can feel sure that each child got some special connection and attention every day. It’s really been a blessing to build this one-on-one time into our daily schedule.

Respond to bids

Marriage expert Dr. John Gottman talks about the importance of responding to “bids for connection” in a relationship, and the same certainly applies to our kids. 

When my kids make a bid for connection, I try so hard to respond, even if it’s not something I’m actually interested in (they are really into animal facts and knock-knock jokes!). 

Sometimes responding to a bid is as simple as repeating what they said back to them (something most people love). 

I figure taking an interest in the small things they care about now will pay off when they want to share big things with me down the road.

And hopefully they will always know they are loved, so our connection will continue and even grow as they get older and leave the nest. 

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