Movies and the rest of the media make it seem as if parent-child bonding is instantaneous and easy. The truth is that many parents and children can often feel disconnected with each other, especially now with our heavy work commitments and TV, tablets and smartphones eating away at our family time.
Here are 5 ideas you can try to strengthen your bond with your preschooler:
- Baby Talk
Even though your preschooler has shed some of their baby looks, try indulging in a little sweet baby talk. You might find it silly at first but you will soon find yourself enjoying it. You will find your child laughing in delight. Baby talk releases hormones like oxytocin (that influences emotional attachment), dopamine, and other neurotransmitters that make you experience a rush of love and strengthens your emotional bond with your child.
- Walk Down Memory Lane
Instead of a fictional bedtime story, tell your child about the day they were born or the day you brought them home, their first steps, their first words, etc. Better yet, show them their baby pictures and baby videos and tell them the story behind it. All children, especially little kids, love to hear stories like these because they feel important and cherished.
- Bond Through Play
Go to the park with your child and instead of being just the parent, be the friend. Play ball, join in an imaginary war against zombies and join in their running races. Your child will be thrilled. At home, do jigsaw puzzles together, wrestle, enter their imaginary world and let go of your inhibitions. You will build precious memories and might learn a great deal about your child in the process.
- Touch and Cuddle
A warm hug, an appreciative pat on the back, a tender kiss, an encouraging squeeze – often we can convey a lot more through a meaningful touch than with any words.
- Have a Little Chat as You Work
You have had a busy day at work and once you are home, there are a million things to be done here as well. So where is the time to cuddle or play with your child? Well, why don’t you invite your child to keep you company as you work? Set a chair in the kitchen and invite your child for a little chat. Tell them that you have things to do, but you miss them and want their company. Make sure that that you make frequent eye contact, and really listen to them even as you work. Make sure you do not judge your child, scold or berate them for anything they might have said during their little chat.
The main thing is to do what feels good and right for you. There are many children who don’t particularly like being hugged, and several adults who find playing with their children fairly boring. That is quite alright. The point is to do something together where you both are fully present in each other’s company.