Without a doubt, providing your child with huge amounts of boundless love and affection during their childhood ensures they grow feeling truly valued and loved, and in turn, this helps them to grow up into confident and healthy young people with high self-esteem.
In fact, this principle of parenting is considered one of the essential proven truths of healthy child development:
More love and affection = Stronger, healthier children
If your child often feels deprived of your love and affection, they are more likely to grow up into vulnerable, unconfident, and even socially inept children.
Love and affection builds a solid foundation for your child’s continued development throughout the entirety of their childhood. Thousands and thousands of studies across the globe have come to the same conclusion, confirming again and again that children with loving guardians are always more advanced when it comes to the qualities of competency and resiliency.
To ensure your child feels and understands they are loved unconditionally, a parent must connect fully with their child. Here’s a few tips on how you can make that happen:
7 Expert Ways to Connect with Your Child
According to the Gottman Institute, there is a “magic ratio to a healthy relationship” rule which states that in order for you to keep a personal relationship healthy, you must balance every negative interaction with 5 positive ones.
As parents, we spend a significant amount of time guiding our children in one form or another – reminding, correcting, nagging, and scolding – all of which our children see negatively.
Therefore, following the “magic ratio” principle to ensure the relationship remains healthy, you then need to spend 5 times as much time connecting with your child in a purely positive way.
Because of the modern lives we lead – with work, other commitments, and so on – in order to establish and maintain a healthy relationship with our child, we need to find different ways to connect each and every day.
The easiest, and yet the best way to do this is to create good habits for connecting that simply become part of your day and your child’s day, too.
- 12 Hugs a Day
Renowned and respected American author and psychotherapist Virginia Satir, recognized for her approach to family therapy, once famously advised, “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
Hug your child “Good Morning” and hug them “Goodnight.” Hug when you say goodbye, when you say hello again. Making eye contact and smiling at your child is another kind of “hug,” so do it often. Remember, we may live in a virtual, online world, but you can’t hug in cyberspace.
Simple and effective. Making laughter a daily habit gives your child a chance to forget their anxieties and worries, and fully enjoy their time with you.
- Turn Off Your Tech
Connection and communication with the person in front of you ends abruptly when you cut your conversation short simply to respond to a text message or read a recently arrived email. Just looking at your phone everytime it makes its notification sound makes your child think you are disinterested in what they have to say or what they’re doing.
The answer? Just turn it off.
- One-on-One Time
You must always make time to connect with your child – however busy you think you are. You can alternate who decides how you will spend this time together – whether it’s playing their favorite game or something else or doing what you want to do.
- Learn to Listen
Connection begins with listening. However, many people have poor listening skills, and the person talking – even if it’s a child – will always be aware when you’re not listening properly.
- Showing Empathy
Seeing things from your child’s perspective helps you, as an adult, understand their motives and their concerns. Doing this may well give you an insight into the reasons for certain behaviors that you would otherwise see as negative. Importantly, it can teach you to show your empathy at the right times, and in a more understanding way.
- Show Up
Many people go through life constantly thinking of what they have to do next – so much so that they aren’t all there for what they’re doing now. Regardless of how you are spending your time together, whenever you’re interacting with your child, show up. Let everything else just go, and be 100% present and there with your child.
For some parents, the idea of connecting with their child is a quick phone text when they have a spare moment, and their best way to praise a child is hitting “Like” on one of their social media posts. Yes, for real.
As a parent, you’re likely to be the most significant influence in your child’s life. If you’re not there 100%, present in the moment, listening properly and showing empathy when needed, any hope of real open and honest connection is gone. It’s up to you.
Open & Honest Communication
Open and honest communication with your child is a valuable avenue to keeping up with the important aspects of their lives, how they’re feeling, what they are happy or sad about, and the good and bad of what’s going on in their lives.
As a parent, if you are able to enjoy this kind of openness with your child, where they are happy to express their feelings to you, you should be thankful. Many parents don’t enjoy such a relationship, so be sure you protect this avenue, this special line of communication as much as you can. Doing so takes a lot of time and effort, but it is worth every moment.
Here are a number of expert tips to guide you in creating open and honest communication with your child:
- Use Active Listening
Let your child know they are understood by reflecting back what you hear. It works like this: You listen without interruption (no matter what), then sum up what you’ve heard.
Use phrases such as:
- “It seems like you’re feeling…”
- “Am I right that you’re feeling…?”
- “I understand you’re feeling…”
- Be Open Minded
If you want to have a productive conversation with your child, try to keep an open mind, and remain both curious and calm. Your child is more likely to be receptive and listen closely to what you have to say.
- Ask Open-Ended Questions
For a more engaging conversation, you’ll want to get more than just a “yes” or “no” response from your child.
- Use “I” Statements
“I” statements allow you to express yourself without your child feeling blamed or judged. For instance, describe a negative behavior, how you honestly feel about it, and how it affects you. Then you spell out what you need. Use sentences such as:
- “I feel like you can’t hear what I have to say when you’re so mad. Then I get frustrated. I need to talk about this later when we’re both able to listen.”
How To Ensure Your Child Feels Valued & Loved
As parents, we want our children to grow up into self-reliant and confident young adults with high self-esteem. To achieve this, as a parent, you need to be authoritative, as opposed to an authoritarian.
Here’s the difference: You want your child to listen, respect and trust you rather than to fear you. In addition, you want to be supportive, as opposed to an overbearing and hovering parent.
Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, a renowned pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, created the “The Lighthouse Parenting Strategy.” This strategy answers 2 of the toughest questions that most parents have difficulty working out:
- How do I give my child the unconditional love he needs to thrive, while also holding him/her to high expectations?; and
- How do I protect my child while also letting him/her learn life’s lessons?
In his book – “Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love With Expectations and Protection With Trust” – he explains this strategy this way: