One of the most profound ways we can show our kids we care

“If we only wait to respond to our kids’ emotions when they are melting down in anger or tears, we end up sending the message that we don’t know how to connect to them emotionally unless they’re in pain. We need to tune in to our kids emotional signals and triggers, and ask them what’s going on inside on a daily basis. Asking, “How are you feeling today, honey?” or, “How’s your heart?” is one of the most profound ways we show them that we care about their hearts and our connection with them.”
Brittney Serpell

I was recently sent this great excerpt from an article. It got me thinking about how important it is for us as the big people in our children’s lives to be intentional in front footing our connection with them. Why?

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Big things go on for children every day

They get tired, or they miss your company. They’re busy and they play hard. They get lonely and overwhelmed. Most days several things don’t work out the way they want them to – they want crackers and cheese at dinner time and it’s something else instead. Maybe they want to sit in the front seat but grandma is. No wonder their emotions spill over easily.

Get in early

When parents are aware of all the little incremental challenges children face, they can be prepared to front foot it and make some generous adjustments so children feel close and cared for. Children don’t normally send out a distress signal until it’s too late and by that time, they feel undone.

So what does getting in early look like? Is there a way of giving children more than they have asked for and keeping the tank nice and full? I think there is. Here are a few ideas.

Initiate a physical connection

All children need affection because it tells them they are loveable and we like them in our presence. A touch on their head, sitting close, brushing their hair or lying on the bed beside them. Children can’t wait all day for this – just like we can’t wait all day or food. Little and often keeps them feeling close.

Have family routines every day

The structure you have each day gives the security that the big people are running the show. Take care of the schedule – how much noise, people, outings, sugar and screen time. Have meals together at the table. Space the day with rest and play and work. Add in a daily dose of reading and rituals, like prayers or songs.

Don’t take things personally

Sometimes children act as they don’t want you around. They turn down your offer of connection or refuse a story. They don’t want to come to the shops for some one-on-one time with you. You’re the big person so keep the invitation out there and wait it out. They really do want to be with you – make it easy for them to slip out from their self-imposed exile.

Read Brittney’s original article here.


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About Author

Jenny Hale

Jenny Hale is our Senior Family Coach and we’ve been lucky enough to have her on our team for 19 years now. Once upon a time, Jenny was a teacher. These days, she spends her time supporting our team of Family Coaches, training new ones, and travelling around the country talking in preschools, schools and churches. She loves working with families and helping them find solutions to the challenges they face with behaviour and parenting. Jenny has been married to Stuart for 40 years and adores being a grandma to her grandkids (who live just 1km away). She needs a support group so she can stop buying books for them. She’d love to raise free-range chickens, write children’s books and perhaps even take up horse-riding again.

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