It’s Children’s Mental Health Week and in 2023 we are talking about connecting with our children. Who better to guide us through this than Christina from @weeseedsmeditations an expert in mindfulness for children and educator in supporting children’s mental health ❤️
Eight ways to strengthen your relationship with your child
By Christina Cran
Tips to connect with your child using mindfulness techniques.
Having a loving, healthy relationship with their parents is a core part of your child’s development. It helps them learn social skills, like how to communicate and behave. But it also helps them understand emotions, feelings and ways to practise wellbeing.
Just as society believes in teaching children their letters and numbers, we believe in teaching wellbeing in the early years. Creating a strong connection with your child will give you space to do this and set them up with mental health skills for the future.
Actively making space and finding ways to strengthen your relationship with your little one will create a nurturing environment that promotes growth and wellbeing for them and the whole family.
Here are eight ways to start that journey together.
Practise being present.
Mindfulness is a key part of finding space. It’s easy in our modern world to be distracted, leaving us open to miss moments of connection, or respond without thought. Learning to be aware in the moment means we can bring calm and clarity to situations, like when our child is angry, or upset, or when they are just seeking to connect with us. It also gives us space to think, hang on, there’s something going on here.
Focus on them.
We’re called away in our heads by our busy monkey mind. Work, dinner prep, our To Do list. One way to practise mindful presence is to focus on your child. Simply being with them. By doing so you’ll naturally find ways to connect and show them they’re important to you. When you feel distracted by thought, take their hand, or look into their eyes. Use them as your mindful anchor.
Active listening is an essential part of building a strong relationship with your child. In essence this means listening, without judging, interrupting, or problem solving. Imagine they’re your best friend or partner and they just want to get something off their chest. Listening to your child now, even about things you don’t always understand, means they’ll be more likely to tell you things in the future.
Show you care.
Understanding and sharing the feelings of someone else means you care and understand what they’ve been through. Children are no different. Build up trust and create a deeper connection by showing you care. This counts even when it’s over the smallest thing. Yes it matters that Jenny took that toy, or Max ran away with someone else at playtime!
Carve out time together.
We all know life is busy. It’s a common refrain. Finding time together can be difficult. But spending time together is the most important part of building a strong relationship. You cannot build a relationship with someone you never see. Find something you both like doing (and if you don’t like doll-roleplay, suggest something else). Whatever it is, make sure you’re fully there for them and use it as an opportunity to focus, listen and show you care.
Be aware of YOU.
Sometimes it’s hard to parent when you’re tired, stressed, or worried. Being mindfully aware of how you’re feeling will help when things are tough, and your child needs a bit of you. It’s OK to say you’re feeling tired and need five minutes and a cup of tea. Not only will you be more available to them when you’re rested, you’re showing them how to look after themselves. Maybe even encourage them to rest with you (who doesn’t like a cup of tea and a cuddle?!).
Using mindfulness techniques can be a great way to connect with your little one. For example, you could practise deep breathing, or gentle yoga. These activities are not only beneficial for connection, but also help your child learn focus and calm. Try our free mindful breathing exercise 👉 here 👈 or you can sign up to try 👉 all our exercises 👈 free for seven days.
Lead by example.
All children learn by example, that’s why building a strong relationship with you is so important. Show them how you cope with big feelings and how you look after your emotions. This will help you connect with them and communicate with each other about how you’re feeling, both now, and in the future.
Building a strong relationship with your child takes time and effort. Remember though that what you do in the early years creates a building block for your future relationship.Putting in time now will help to create a solid foundation on which your child can grow and develop.
Remember this isn’t a chore. We’re often told to do this, or that, and feel we need to strive to be a better person or a better parent. Instead we urge you to add these small practices into your life as a way to spend time with your child. The destination isn’t being a better parent, the important thing is enjoying the journey of parenthood.
Want more support to nurture connection and wellbeing?
For ideas and exercises to nurture connection and other wellbeing skills, find out more about the Wee Seeds Nurturing Wellbeing programme - a toolbox of fun early years mindfulness exercises to teach you how to plant the seeds of wellbeing 👉 here 👈
This blog on connection is in support of Children’s Mental Health Week, which runs from 6-12 February, organised by Place2Be. The theme this year is Let’s Connect. For other hints and activities on connection, visit their website 👉 here 👈
Have fun connecting.🙏