One of the many things that continues to surprise me about parenthood is that it doesn't always come naturally. Sure, you have instincts that kick in and there is definitely a bond that forms between parents and their kids. But sometimes, when temper tantrums rage and I'm at the end of my rope, parenting feels anything but natural. Though your kids are some of the closest people to you, some days it can feel challenging to forge an authentic relationship with them. Luckily, there are lots of great ways to get closer to your kid in one afternoon that you can set in motion today.
Kids aren't all that complicated. No matter the age of your child, getting close to them isn't rocket science. Though it will take patience and actual effort on your part, it's usually possible for even the most distant of parents to create a lasting bond with their kids.
The parent-child relationship is complex, beautiful, and arguably one of the most important of their life. So being intentional with the kind of relationship you create is important. Start small, just one afternoon, and in no time, you'll feel closer to your kid and less like a parent just waiting for those instincts to kick in. And if you don't know where to start, here are a few ways to get closer to your kid before bedtime.
1. Ask What They Want To Be When They Grow Up & Take Them There
Whether they want to be a UPS man, a ballerina, a teacher, or a firefighter, taking your kid to their "dream job" is a great (and probably cheap) way to bond with them and watch their heroes do what they do best.
2. Ask Them About What They Are Excited About Today
Though it doesn't take a scientist to realize that being equally excited about what your child is excited about will automatically create a bond. As an article from Vanderbilt noted, observing, or just asking, your child what they're looking forward to helps them feel noticed and important.
3. Let Loose
It's easy to let self-consciousness or fear get in the way of really having fun with your kids. Instead, let your guard down and get a little silly with them. They'll never forget it.
4. Stay Close During Meltdowns
Although dealing with tantrums is a normal part of parenting, how you handle them can make a difference. And even though different tantrums require different responses, Kids Health suggested that sometimes comforting your child when their frustrated instead of disciplining them will help.
5. Laugh At Their Jokes
Even if they're not funny at all.
Aha Parenting calls empathy your "number one parenting tool." And although it can seem like you're "lowering" yourself to empathize with a child's emotions, oftentimes it's just what they need to feel closer to you.
7. Get Your Hands Dirty
Kids love to play outside and get dirty. This time, instead of watching them from afar, join in on the fun.
8. Go On A Picnic
Packing an easy lunch and eating somewhere new is an exciting way to shake up your routine and have some extra fun with your kiddo.
9. Teach Them Something New
Whether it's playing a new game, a new skill, or a new food, teaching them something they didn't know before will only add brownie points.
10. Try Their Favorite Food
Even if it's PB&J or cheese and crackers, eat it and pretend that you love it.
11. Give Back Together
One great you can do together is volunteer for a cause you both care about. It not only teaches selflessness, but creates an awesome bonding experience.