3 Easy ways to connect with your child

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Being a parent is busy! It can be a full time job and that’s not including working outside the home and the chores that need doing around the house.  
How can we connect with our children or make our children feel important when we are so busy?  Hopefully these few things may help you to connect with your child in just a few minutes a day.  Some may seem bizarre but have fun trying them out anyway.

I have three boys and most conversations or experiences they want to tell me about revolve around superheroes or gaming. Being a mum to three boys also means I might hear three different versions of the same thing... and sometimes all at once too.   Here are some things that have helped me deal with the times when they really want me to listen.

1)      To really connect with your child you need eye contact when they are talking, even if for a few seconds. It’s easy to say ‘ah-ha’ or ‘mmm’ when listening to your child while you’re busy doing something, but we know we don't hear as well when we are doing two things at once.  If you know the conversation is going to take a while say, I'll be ready to sit and listen to you in a few minutes and make sure you come back to them.  

2)      If you really can’t actively listen and look them in the eye at that moment, or you are busy with a chore, ask them to be involved by saying something like,  “I’m busy at the moment with .... cooking, cleaning or doing the laundry, ... it would be great if you could help me out and then we can sit together and you can tell me all about it”.  Normally, if it is important they will stick around, or the idea of work will make them disappear. This gives them a choice.

3)      If your child is constantly looking to tell you about something or wanting your attention as soon as you move out of their sight, I would recommend trying to have a box where they can write or draw a picture about what it is they want to say.  Let them know they can open the box at a preset time and go through what’s been on their mind during the day.   It may be a time before bed or at preset times in the day. 

So, if you want to connect with your child they do need undivided attention even if it is just a few minutes but you can give them alternatives if you are busy by getting them to be involved with what you are doing, like preparing a meal. If that is not possible rather be honest with them and tell them to come back in 10 minutes. 

The dog-child

Thursday, March 6, 2014

It took months of nagging, researching and negotiating but we now have one.  

Some families begin with a ‘dog child’ some families get a ‘dog child’ when their children grow up.  The latter is my experience.  My 11 year old really wanted a puppy so the search began.  I thought it was a good idea to teach him responsibility and he did make all these promises of taking care of the puppy.  It felt like a long time while we waited for her to be old enough to leave her own mother and finally we picked her up and brought her to our house, her new home. 

I call her my “dog child” because really from the minute she came into our home she stole our hearts.  She is playful, alert and definitely considered one of the family.
 It’s been 8 months now and she still runs to greet us when we arrive home at the end of a long day.  Our boys used to do this when they were younger, although it has been replaced with the occasional sentence, “Oh, you’re home, when did you get here?” as they look up from their iPad.  Our puppy also follows me around as I move between rooms, sits at the door when I leave the house and will want to sit or lay right next to me at any given opportunity.  I remember that too with my son as a toddler, wanting to play when I was talking on the phone or walking behind me or holding my leg when I left the room.  
The main difference with my ‘dog child’ is that I can throw toys and she runs to fetch them and she doesn’t need as long for playtime, she stops eventually and compared with my sons she sleeps way better and way more.

I tend to think maybe the attachment to my ‘dog child’ started like most attachments through a need. The puppy needed me to make sure it was fed and comforted.  Similarly to when I bought my newborns home, they needed to be fed and bathed and comforted.  

My son stood by his side of the bargain, almost, I took on the feeding responsibilities and he does the picking up of mess and takes her for the occasional walk.  I think he really wanted a soft toy to lay on his lap and be stroked.  

I found myself getting up in the wee hours just to make sure it wasn’t her whimpering.  I made extra sure she was comfortable in her bed and in the early days of having her at home got up early before the boys just to make sure they did not startle her with loud noise.

It is hard work but she rewards us with unconditional love, those round puppy dog eyes that say sorry when she knows she has done something wrong.  There are definitely ups and downs with my ‘dog child’ but she fills our lives and we can’t imagine life without her.

Do you have a pet that is part of the family? Did you begin your family with a pet or did you get pressure from your child for a pet? We’d love to hear how your pet has changed your family and any therapeutic effects your pet may have had. 

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