Connecting Emotionally with Your Kids
Good dads do three things: They provide, nurture, and guide. The providing part might seem pretty self-explanatory. But nurturing and guiding requires being connected emotionally to your child, and for a lot of guys, that’s a harder thing to accomplish. Don’t let the concept of building an emotional connection with your child daunt you. Here’s some simple things you can do:
- Kids spell “love” T-I-M-E: Yes, both you and your kids have very busy schedules. But building a long-term emotional connection with your child takes time. Establish a weekly appointment for you and your child – put it on your calendar and don’t let anything else get scheduled over it. Your child needs to know that he or she is a priority. No need to plan something elaborate - just do something fun together. As you spend time together, that emotional bond will grow.
- Talk with them: If you want to connect emotionally, you need to know what’s going on in your children’s lives that might positively or negatively affect their emotional state. Spend at least 15 minutes every evening talking about what’s going on in their lives. Ask questions that require more than a “yes,” “no,” or “fine” answer. Listen attentively to what they say.
- Discipline with love: If the most common emotions your kids experience from you are frustration and anger when they do something wrong, you will break down the emotional trust you’re trying to build. They will make mistakes and do things wrong, and as a parent, you have to help them understand that there are consequences for their actions. But do so in a calm and fair manner and explain why they are being disciplined. Take some time beforehand to calm down if you’re upset. Always reaffirm your love for your children.
- Random acts of appreciation: Leave your son a note in his backpack to tell him you’re thinking about him today. Tell your daughter something great about her personality - for no particular reason or occasion. Being intentional about this will help you value your children, even on the frustrating days, and it will go a long way toward creating that bond between you and your child.
- Say “I Love You”: Every day. Your kids need to hear it from you.
- Hug them: This needs to be an every day thing, too, no matter how old they are.
Check out NFI's "It Takes Heart to Be a Dad" campaign at www.fatherhood.org/ittakesheart