As a parent, we know it is important to stay connected to our children. Children who feel connected to their parents or significant caregivers are less likely to misbehave and throw tantrums. Most people would agree that feeling connected to others can have a tremendous impact on their feelings of wellbeing and happiness and the lack of that connection can leave us feeling isolated and misunderstood.
While it is not possible for a parent and child to feel connected all of the time and breaks in connection are a part of any healthy relationship, there are certain times of the day when connection may have a bigger impact on the relationship than other times. By focusing on these key times of connection, parents can strengthen the bond between themselves and their children.
Three minutes that may have the greatest impact on your feelings of connectedness to your child are the first three minutes of your morning together. Starting out the morning in a positive way has an impact on many of us, which is why when we come across someone grumpy we might wonder if they “woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” The morning interactions and experiences can easily set the tone for the rest of the day that we will have. Some of us don’t necessarily enjoy interacting with others in the morning. If you prefer a few minutes of quiet or need to watch television or drink coffee alone before becoming fully awake, then you might try getting up a little earlier so that you can have that time for yourself and still be fully present when your children get up.
Another three minutes that may have a great impact on your connection with your child are the first three minutes when they arrive home from school or you pick them up from daycare. They are likely thrilled to see you and tell you all about their days and giving them your full attention in those first three minutes will allow them to share those experiences with you and to reestablish the connection they feel with you. Many of us would agree that it feels nice to come home and have your partner or others appear to be glad to see you and to stop to ask you about their day, rather than receiving a passing “hello” while they are busy doing other things. While most of us have a lot of things we are responsible for, we can usually rearrange our schedules to accommodate a three minute break for connection.
The final three minutes before bedtime have also been identified as having a great impact on feelings of connection between children and their parents. Spending that time talking to your child or reading him or her a bedtime story can set them up for good dreams and security in the relationship between the two of you. When feeling secure in the relationship with an important other, the child is likely to sleep more soundly and wake up feeling more rested.
The nine minutes discussed here have been found to have the greatest impact on feelings of connectedness between children and their parents. By putting focused attention on your child during these nine crucial moments, you may find your relationship is strengthened and that problematic behaviors begin to diminish.