Connection Building Made Easy
What is connection?
Connection is a feeling of alignment and security. A need to be close and in tune with those we care about.
Why is connection such an importnat part of caregiving?
Humans are social creatures. We value connection above all else. Our brains are literally built on the interactions we have day to day with those closest to us. Every smile, every hug and every song feeds our need to feel loved, supported and safe.
How can we find time to connect with our children when we’re so busy?
Connection is something we do all the time (often without noticing). But, you better believe you notice when it’s missing. Meltdowns, tantrums and all sorts of challenging behaviour can occur when we miss children’s cues.
Children have an instinctive need to feel close and connected to you. When they don’t, they will find ways of getting that connection (for better or worse!) because any connection is better than no connection.
To avoid the feelings of overwhelm that come with your child’s ‘connection-seeking’ behaviour, try taking 10 minutes a day to purposefully connect. Your uninterrupted and focused presence is what makes children feel seen, heard and understood by you. This helps to keep their cup full, and yours too!
We know it’s difficult when you’re busy and that’s why we try to sneak connection into our everyday interactions and tasks. Remember, you either spend the time connecting, or you spend the time dealing with the fall out of a child who’ll do anything for your connection. Either way, you spend the time.
Need some ideas?
Brushing your hair
Invite your child into the bathroom with you. Look at yourself in the mirror and brush your hair. Offer your child their own brush so they can look in the mirror and do the same. You can chat about how it feels on your head or simply watch your child through curious eyes.
Loading and sorting the washing
Invite your child into the laundry to talk to them about how the dirt gets cleaned from their clothes with soap and water. Show your child how to place some clothing into the washing machine and invite them to try. You can take turns or you can watch them. Comment on what they’re doing and be playful! You can even sit together to sort and match different items when the closes are dry.
Kitchen musical instruments
Invite your child into the kitchen and choose some things in the cupboards to make music with. Talk about what noises they make, do they sound the same or different? Are they loud or soft? Make music together and sing songs. Allow your child to lead the play and go along for the ride.
You can make this together or simply buy some from the shop. Grab some tools to use (these could be from the kitchen or sticks / leaves from outside) and let your child experiment with the playdough. Sit back and watch. Join in if they invite you, but don’t take over. Be curious about what they’re making and, rather than praising their finished product, notice their creativity, effort and persistence.
Go for a walk outside together with a bag or basket and pick up some treasures that you find along the way. Sticks, leaves, rocks, anything goes! Talk about how they are similar, or different. Let your child explore the outdoors and take this play where they want it to go. Use this as a time to practice and model mindfulness. Notice what they are drawn to and be curious about how they play.
Words: Nicola Vozzo
Nicola is a Child Development Practitioner at Connect.Ed and one of the faces behind Connected Caregiving
Originally published in Connected Caregiving Spring 2022