Most parents know whether or not they are connected to their children. As our society has begun to put more value on the emotional well being of our children, the term “attunement” is being used more frequently to describe that bonding or connectedness parents seek to maintain with their sons and daughters. Being attuned to our children not only promotes their emotional health, it gives them confidence and makes them secure in feeling good about their home life. As our children grow into teenagers, sometimes this need for feeling “attuned” to our children is no longer a priority as the teenage years can present challenges for some. Also, parents can become distracted by the circumstances we all face during the course of our lives which include: financial pressures, work stresses, marital strain and conflict, determination for success and blended families due to divorce or remarriage. Many things can cause us to become “less attuned” or “dis-connected” from our children and families, however, here are some tips to help re-gain our focus to our children.
1) Accept Your Child’s TEMPERAMENT – parents need to adjust to their children’s personalities, even if the parent and child temperament seem to be a mismatch. Acceptance of your child’s personality will only help them to feel secure and better able to further develop their own identity and personality.
2) Invest TIME Into Your Children – children need quality and quantity time. Make sure you carve out time for both and show them your interest in what their day is like. Children also enjoy being read stories and sharing their ideas with you during regular conversations.
3) TOUCH Your Children – nurture your child touches of the hair, squeezes of the hand or hugs and kisses. Wrestling matches, high-fives and fist bumps are ways of “keeping in touch” as well. Learn which type of touch feels good to your child and show them affirmative affection whenever possible.
4) TEACH Your Children – help them understand and set expectations about life by teaching them values and important life lessons. Show your children how to manage their feelings when they are upset and how to solve problems. Keep in mind that one of the best ways we can teach our children is by letting them see us live out the principles and guidelines we set.
5) Use TENACITY With Your Children – Tenacity generates warmth, clear limits and constructive boundaries within the family structure, while helping to maintain safety and security in challenging times.
6) Foster UNIQUENESS – it is a mistake that all children are the same and should be treated as such. Families are made up of individuals who are very different from eachother.
7) Avoid RIGIDNESS – Trust is a very big part of building a healthy family and while rules are necessary, flexibility is essential. It is best for parents to clearly articulate and express expectations, as well as be consistent when following up with fair consequences.
8) Keep Good FAMILY RITUALS – enjoy family gatherings and time togther on a regular basis and take time to talk over the dinner table, during game nights or social outings. Take time, regularly, to have fun and get to know eachother.
9) Help Your Children to Develop a LEGACY – help them to develop as a person by teaching them about the extended family relationships in their lives. Teach them about deceased family members or share some of your childhood memories or upbringing stories. Show them some of your vulnerabilities so they are more comfortable opening up to you.
10) Choose Appropriate WORDS – our relationships with our children can change drastically if, when in a moment of frustration we attack them with words like “You Always…” or “You Never…” They need to hear “I love you” - “Thank You” - “You are special because…” building love in children keeps them from lacking confidence.
Show your children that they are loved and give them a strong foundation for confidence in life.
Resources for this article include:
Chess, S. & Thomas, A. (1987). Knowing Your Child. New York: Basic Books
Thomas, A. & Chess, S. (1977). Temperament and Development. New York: Bruner-Mazel.