I like to think of them as the things you do with your kids, away from technology, that will make your life easier (and more fun). Wouldn’t that be the definition of a non-app?
I recently wrote about an A-ha moment when expressing to The Boy how miserable meltdowns made the rest of us feel helped him to see that being cooperative made the people he loves happy, which is his greatest desire. If he didn’t have that connection with me, he wouldn’t care. Here are some things that we do that help me connect with my child, which in the long run is my best defense against meltdowns, attitude, whining, etc.
1. Take walks together. My kid isn’t all that athletic. OK, he isn’t athletic at all. So to get him to get outside and be active is a tough thing when there isn’t a pool or the ocean nearby. We take a walk almost daily, depending on the weather. It is usually just a block or two, but it is free from distraction and we have some good talks about the big and the little things.
2. We cuddle, and smush each other. My son is 10, and some may think “too old” for this, but he benefits from the deep pressure, and it helps us connect. He “wres-tles” (pronouncing the “t”) with The Man, which is way more manly, but has the same benefits. I told him I had to “tackle” the kitchen today, and he said, “Go for the legs!”
3. Read together. Every year, we have a reading log sent home, and I am sure the expectation is that The Boy reads to me, but I often read to him. He is a good reader. He gets practice all day long at school, and I want to model good, natural reading to him, plus it’s a treat. He can lay there listening (hopefully getting sleepy), and absorb common inflection and pacing while cuddling next to me.
4. Being silly together. I am lucky. The Boy has an incredible sense of humor. He loves jokes and word games. Having private jokes together is another way to connect.
5. Encouraging his talents. Some obsessions are a little hard to deal with (like the summer he had to wear the same green shirt every day). But as he has gotten older, most of his obsessions have become a little more useful. Writing comics, knowing about every version of Windows that has ever come out, and being able to identify car makes and models even at night are easier to encourage; By not trying to constantly steer him away from the things he loves, I am validating that they have worth and value, and could lead to greater things.
What do you do to connect with your child? Have you seen the benefits? Tell us about it.