Have you had a moment of connection with your child today that made your heart melt?
You need at least one of those moments every day, to be happy as a parent.
Why? Because parenting is hard, and those moments of love are what make all the sacrifice worth it. That connection is also what reminds us that our child is a young human doing the best she can, even when we wish she'd act differently. And since we have the privilege of seeing our kids at their worst, that connection renews our faith so we can keep seeing our child's best potential, even when they can't.
Our kids need those moments too, to trust us. That's when our love really sinks into their souls. When kids are convinced they're lovable, they're more likely to act lovable. When they're not, they "act out." We think of "acting out" as behaving badly, but it just means that someone has feelings they don't know how to express, so they act those feelings out.
What if you could create that deep loving connection as your (almost) constant way of being with your child? It would be like giving yourself a magic wand. There would be no more yelling in your home. Some heart-felt tears, maybe. Lots of hugging, smiling, laughing, fun.
1. Imagine yourself connecting to your child, feeling deep love, right now.
Maybe it's that good morning snuggle with him. Or you're twirling her around, both of you laughing. Hold that picture for a full 60 seconds. Watch it like a movie. How are you feeling and acting? How is your child responding? Let that heart-melting, connected feeling soak in. You're programming your subconscious, so you can create more of these moments in your life.
2. As you go through your day today, notice each time you start to get irritated at your child.
Show yourself that warm picture and feel that feeling again. (Yes, before you correct your child.) Sounds hard? Keep practicing. It gets easier. It helps if you can see things from your child's perspective instead of getting stuck in yours. There's always more than one way to interpret a situation.
3. Don't try to guide your child when you're angry.
Is your child acting out? Intervene only to keep everyone safe, and then say "I need to calm down before I speak with you." Then go calm down and re-center yourself in your loving vision. If your guidance to your child comes from anger or fear, it will backfire. If it comes from your loving connection with your child, you'll be creating less drama and more love. Every interaction either strengthens or erodes your relationship.
4. Take at least one action TODAY to make that loving image happen.
Even a small action moves you in the right direction. Humans connect most quickly through physical touch. Play is also fool-proof. But it doesn't happen without slowing down, letting go of distractions, and bringing yourself completely into the interaction with your child. Snuggle on the couch, give a foot rub, or start some roughhousing that gets everyone laughing. Encourage sibling bonding with a "kids against parents" pillow fight. (Let the kids win.)
5. Give yourself a huge hug.
You don't have to be perfect. You're a hero just for getting up each morning determined to be the best parent you can be. In fact, accepting and loving yourself might be the best gift you can give your child, because it helps you become more emotionally generous. So hug yourself. Hug your child. And enjoy your magic wand of connection. You're becoming your child's fairy godmother or godfather.
You'll be amazed at the transformation in your home within a week.
Love never fails.
Want more practical, kid-tested strategies to connect more, yell less, and make life with your child happier?
You'll find them in my book: