“Sure, I’ll play with you.” *Big Grin* I absolutely ADORE my kids. But tell me I’m not the only one who has to fake a smile sometimes when I get invited into another round of stuffed animal zoo.
But let’s be honest. Connecting with our kids is SO important and we all want to have a strong connection with our kids. Nobody wants to be that mom who never has time to connect with her kids or never initiates anything fun. But please tell me there’s a middle ground between the cold, heartless evil mother in Tangled and the instagram perfect “fun mom” who spends hours sitting on the floor playing educational games worthy of Pinterest (wait, does she exist?).
Yes, there is.
Kids need connection. And so do adults. As parents, we are so hard on ourselves. We oftentimes feel like we have to choose between two extremes: No, I won’t play with you OR Yes, we can play for as long as you want doing whatever you want.
Good news! What kids really need most of all is to know that they matter to you. What kids DON’T really need is hours of endless one-on-one play with a parent that can burn out all parties involved.
So when your child is acting out, craving attention or whining as they hold onto your leg, saying your name for the 200th time, 5 minutes of intentional connection with them is sometimes all it takes to fill their love tank and help reset their (and your) mood.
5 Easy Ways to Connect with Your Kid in 5 Minutes or Less
1. ANIMAL HUGS
This is one of my daughter’s absolute favorites! Okay, mine too. We made it up together. Study after study shows how important physical touch is for our mental health and overall well-being. When you take a few minutes to love your child through kind, gentle touch, it can work wonders for their self-confidence.
To play animal hugs, you and your child take turns choosing a type of animal and initiating a hug with the other person the way you think that animal would hug. “Bear hug!” says my daughter, as we wrap our arms all the way around each other and growl like bears. “Hamster hug!,” I say next, as I make my arms short and pretend to scratch at the air with tiny claws as we make a tiny, ridiculously hilarious attempt at hugging. “Kangaroo hug!” she says next, as we jump towards each other to embrace.
Not only do we connect physically & emotionally, but we both end up laughing hysterically as we try to out-do each other with silly animals. By the end of 5 minutes, we’re both exhausted and our love tanks are full.
There’s a powerful connection that happens when you invite your child to climb into your lap and share a literary adventure together. Books open a world of wonder & magic to children & adults alike.
Choose a book or let your child choose one and read away! Bonus points if you add in a few fun voices or let your child give it a whirl. [Check out 10 Hilarious Picture Books to Make Your Family Laugh for some great ideas!]
If you don’t have a book handy, no problem. Try a MAKE YOUR OWN STORY exercise. (These are great for car trips too). You and your child (or as many family members as you want) each take turns adding one thing to the story. For example, you start with, “Once upon a time, in a land far away, there was a magical castle with a blue door.” Then you encourage your child to add the next line. If they need help, try prompting them with something like….”when the blue door opened, there was a _______ on the other side…”
Keep going for 5 minutes or until the story comes to an end. The more silly you get, the more fun it can be. As you finish, give your child a warm hug and tell them how much you love sharing stories together. More kids? Even better! Let each one contribute a line for as many rounds as you like. But 5 minutes can create a pretty impressive story 😉
3. DANCE PARTY
Music is a language that crosses all cultures and barriers. It inspires & unites people in countries all over the world. Turn on an upbeat or silly song on your phone, find one on YouTube, or sing your own (if you are so bold) and start dancing.
There’s a good chance your child will join in on their own. If not, coax them. Not only will it provide a quick connection, but you both will get some exercise as well. If your 13-year old gives you an eye roll, you’re probably doing it right.
4. ASK FOR HELP
As parents, it’s easy to spend a lot of our time telling kids what to do, but we don’t often ask them for help. Just like us, they like to be needed. Doing a project together, even a small one, demonstrates to your child that you value what they have to offer and you enjoy their company.
Whether it’s cooking dinner, putting something together, making a trek to the mailbox, or running a quick errand, invite them to help. If they turn you down, that’s okay. Try again with something else later. Another idea is to ask them to teach you something! Let them tell you about how their toy works or something they learned at school and show you the ropes.
5. SHARE A SNACK
I haven’t met a kid (or teenager) yet who will turn down a snack. Food has brought people together since the beginning of time. Take a minute to whip up a snack and invite your child to share it with you (or better yet, bring two plates so you actually get some).
Up the ante by taking this moment to ask your child a fun question or two…try one of these:
1. What is something you’re excited about this week?
2. What is your favorite thing that we do together?
3. If someone gave you $100, what would you do with it?
4. If you could have a wild animal for a pet, what would you choose?
5. If you could help someone in need, who would you help?
The Benefit of 5 Minutes
Every day we have the opportunity to demonstrate to our kids how valuable they are and how much we love them. The more positive interactions we have with them, the healthier our relationship will be and the more peaceful our homes will become.
Don’t allow the guilt of “never enough time” to prevent you from being intentional with the small pockets of time you do have. Small moments can be just as powerful as long hours, when done right. When it comes down to it, your kids just want to know that not only do you love them, but that you like them too.
Enjoy this post? You may also like…
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