Connection is Essential
What do lamps, Legos and parenting have in common? They are each dependent on connection to fulfill their purpose. Lamps need their cord connected to an outlet; Legos need connection to transform into fun sculptures and connection is essential for healthy family relationships. In this post, we’ll review some ways to connect with our children.
Since early attachments can impact later relationships, a parent’s history with connection is extremely important and should not be overlooked (Bowlby & Ainsworth: What Is Attachment Theory?) In Parenting from the Inside Out, Dan Siegel explains that it’s not what happened to you, but how you use what happened to you to help you move forward. Our history affects us and gaining awareness of our early interactions and feelings can be freeing. Journaling and/or sharing your story with someone else is helpful when reviewing past experiences. Be sure to offer yourself plenty of gentleness, kindness, and care during this historical journey.
Meeting your child’s physical and emotional needs helps build trust and connection. Attending to your child’s basic needs of hydration, diet, sleep and exercise/activity helps your child feel cared for physically. Providing these with generous doses of eye contact, gentle touch and a soft voice helps your child know they are important, precious and safe. The child gains confidence their parent or caregiver will be there to meet their needs.
Play builds connection too, so be silly with your child. Its healthy to be playful. For young children, games like Peek-a-Boo and Little Piggy build connection. Check out Still Face Experiment to watch a short video for a glimpse at the importance of connection to a child. Connection looks different as your child gets older, but is still really important. Jokes and gentle games encourage connection, trust and learning.
When a parent prioritizes connection, the child’s relational needs come into focus. Children need encouragement to process their feelings, so remember to validate their feelings by saying things like, “It’s ok to feel angry. Sometimes I feel angry too…What are some good ways to deal with anger?” This website offers other practical suggestions in dealing with a child’s emotions.
Every interaction with your child can create relationship. Be attentive. Pam Leo in the article, What’s Connection Parenting? writes, “Experiences like kissing scraped knees, laughing hysterically over nothing, discussing human nature over the dinner table, or wrestling with a challenging decision during a quiet stroll at twilight—that’s what builds intimacy. But to have these kinds of deep moments with someone, we have to make our connection with that human a priority.” Connection parenting means prioritizing your relationship with your child.
Lamps and Legos are man-made but families are sculpted by God and He is our ultimate example for connected parenting. He meets our needs, encourages us to spend time with Him, and never leaves us or forsakes us.