One of the most profound and influential relationships you will ever have is with your child.
That statement can be somewhat overwhelming, but when you take time to truly be intentional in building a strong relationship – your child will reap the benefits.
Finding ways to celebrate your child, especially if you have more than one takes time and some detective skills. Determining what makes your child ‘tick’ and their unique characteristics helps to ensure parents and children stay connected through all ages of their upbringing.
Here are a few tips on enhancing the bond with your child that you can start today.
Learn Your Child’s Love Language
You have probably heard of Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages which helps couples learn to speak the other persons love language. We all “feel” love differently and when you can determine how best to “give” that love to your partner so they will truly feel it, your effort is receive positively. Well, the same concept can be adapted with your children. He has a book specifically for parents to determine how their child gives and receives love.
There are 5 main categories, Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time and Gifts.
Maybe you are a parent who hugs and cuddles with your child thinking that you enjoy it and they must enjoy it and know how much you love them. But if you child’s main love language is Acts of Service, they are not getting the same result out of that action that you may be intending, thus you are missing that big connection of relating your love to that child.
Take a look at the book, The Five Love Language of Children and see if you can determine your child’s primary and secondary love languages. If you have trouble, there is even a great quiz that you can give your child in the back of the book that will help determining it for you.
Date Your Kids
We hear a lot about making time for date nights for couples, but dates with your children are just as important. Spending time together as a family is wonderful, but you will also learn so much about your children if you are able to spend time alone with each of them on an occasional basis.
This works well for both parents, not just moms. Find out what your child likes to do and then set up a time once a month to enjoy that activity with your child. Make sure to write it on your calendar just like you would any other important appointment and let your child know so they can look forward to that time too.
Spending regular one on one time will increase communication with your child and help them feel incredible value. I can remember one particular time where my son and I chose a book to read together for our date time. We each would read a portion and then we would go to a local coffee shop, grab a snack and discuss what we read. This may not appeal to all children, but this was a huge time for me to understand and hear my son’s perspective on a really interesting social topic. I would never have learned these things had I not taken the time to spend it with him.
Establish a Special Name
Create a special name for your child that is positive and special that you can use between each other. Use the name as a simple reinforcement of your love. You can even come up with a special code word or sign that only you two understand.
When my son was young and began swimming with the older kids on a swim team, he was very nervous. So I decided to have a special “signal” that I gave him every time he went up to start a race. He would find me in the crowd and look for me to give him “our sign”. Even 8 years later, we enjoy sharing the sign and it triggers for him some special memories. I also have given all of my children little names of endearment, which are theirs alone.
Plan your daily routine so that there are some opportunities for you to have relaxed, unhurried, unstructured time together every day. It seems families today are rushed from one activity to the next and have very little downtime or space in their day to be spontaneous, so be intentional in making that happen.
Create space in your calendar.
Have some fun activities in mind that you can surprise your family with. Being spontaneous was something I did on a regular basis a few years back, then I began to really cherish my routines and really fell off the wagon when it came to switching gears. I realized that I was losing a lot of precious time where significant memories could be made, so now I try really hard to do the unexpected.
Just today, as we are off on a little break on the Pacific Coast, I asked who wanted to go for a walk in the pouring rain! They looked at me like I was crazy, but when they knew I was serious we all went out, got entirely soaked on our walk and came back to get warmed up with dry clothes and hot chocolate.
Birthdays are the perfect time to show kids how much they mean to you. This does not mean you have to rent out the skating rink, invite the entire class of 30 kids and provide pizza. What it does mean is finding ways that are meaningful to your family.
I find that simple is usually best. Some of my fondest memories of birthdays from my younger days are when I had a couple friends over, my mom made a homemade cake and we played a few games.
I am a firm believer that family celebrations which are simple and full of tradition are best. I recently read a great book by Mary Ostyn, A Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family where she shared how each of her children get breakfast in bed on their birthday, delivered by the entire family. The person whose birthday it is is made to feel like a king or a queen and is even given a bell in order to call for assistance at any point during the meal. How cool is that? This can be a fun tradition to begin in your house – especially if you might get in on the birthday routine too!