When you are the parent of young kids, keeping up with the daily routine can be overwhelming. Sometimes, it feels like you spend your entire day cycling through a continuous loop of repetitive tasks—changing diapers, preparing meals, feeding your kids, cleaning up, driving to some activity and then back home—wash, rinse, repeat.
Taking care of these daily tasks is important for keeping our homes and families functioning well. Unfortunately, with all that we have to do, it can often be hard to find the time to connect with our families on an emotional level. But making time to connect emotionally is also important for keeping our homes and families functioning well.
Actually, connecting emotionally is one of the most important ways we build relationships, become more self-aware, and help our children develop mentally. The great news is that there are tons of easy ways to connect with children without feeling like you are adding another task to your already overflowing to-do list. Continue reading for some helpful ideas.
The Science Behind Emotional Connection
Human beings are hardwired to connect with other human beings socially and emotionally. Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher and one of the first to study human psychology, famously said that human beings are by nature social animals. We naturally seek to build and maintain close relationships.
However, human beings are also extremely adaptable to adverse circumstances. This trait can be both beneficial and detrimental. While our adaptability allows us to survive traumatic experiences like an emergency health scare, it also makes it easier for us to accept incremental changes that can negatively affect us as well, like treating digital communications as a substitute for face-to-face human interaction.
We become what we practice. So it stands to reason that if we want our children to grow into adults who are able to connect emotionally and have healthy relationships, we need to practice good habits with them now.
Benefits of Bonding With Kids Through Play
How do kids learn to connect socially and emotionally? If you’re a parent, you already know the answer: kids connect through play.
While setting up playdates and taking your child to the playground to run around with other kids are wonderful, this is not a replacement for playing and engaging with him yourself. Here is a list of 30 Joyful Ways to Connect with Your Child to help you get started.
When you get down on the floor (on your child’s level) and let her take the lead, you will start to notice that she’s more cooperative, happy, and easygoing long after playtime ends. Taking even 10 minutes, while waiting on a load of laundry or for dinner to finish cooking, to give your child your full attention and to truly engage with him can make a huge difference.
Besides the immediate emotional benefits, like joy and stress reduction, bonding through play brings long-term developmental benefits too:
- Kids practice verbal and nonverbal communication skills while at play.
- Kids develop the ability to sustain focus
- While playing with others, kids learn how to empathize and respond appropriately to others’ feelings.
- The play environment is a safe place to experiment with different roles (e.g., initiator, gatekeeper, coordinator, harmonizer, etc.)
- Kids also learn how to experience other points of view by working through conflict and how to negotiate rules in a positive way.
Community Events Support Family Bonding
In addition to making time to play and connect one-on-one, we know that when families spend time together it increases children’s social and emotional strength. As the weather in the Triangle continues to improve, keep your eyes open for fun community events that support family bonding.
And speaking of fun community events, it’s hard to believe that it’s almost time for our Pinwheels for Prevention Family Fun Day on April 30th. We hope you will join us for a day filled with Wheels Fun Park Durham activities, performances, raffles, contests, and so much more! Get advanced tickets here before 4PM Friday, April 28 and save money.
The Exchange Family Center hosts this annual event and fundraiser every April in correspondence with National Child Abuse Prevention Month. So, Pinwheels is not only a family fun day, it’s also an opportunity to learn about how EFC strengthens families and enhances the protective factors that reduce the risk of childhood trauma. Come see our Photovoices display and see the impact we’ve had on families and classrooms!
Remember, strong family bonding means socially and emotionally stronger kids!