For parents, one of the most important things is bonding with our children. We spend so much time fretting about the kind of education we want to give them and working hard in shaping them into the adults we want them to become. We are constantly trying to get our toddlers to pay more attention, to learn faster, to be polite, to share, etc. and as they get older, the list of values we campaign for as parents just gets longer and longer.
One thing we need to realize is that we can’t possibly stay on top of everything that makes them a person. In fact, we only provide tools as a parent; we can’t decide what they will be because they’re actually their own person from the moment they are born.
We look at children and we think they need to be told how to be, but the truth is that they figure it out on the go and they, in many ways, forge their personalities. As parents, one of the most important things (on top of education), is to be able to relate to our children and enjoy their every stage. They’re not a project, they’re people. Yes, they’re very flawed and fragile, but they’re amazing little people that are constantly picking up on things and learning without us having to say “you have to learn this”.
I think the best thing you can do for your children’s development is have a nurturing, motivating, close relationship instead of having a controlling attitude about what you want them to learn. Children learn and they discover things at their own speed; bonding with them and helping them bond with others creates a lot more learning experiences than you might think.
Bonding is definitely the right approach, and it will lead you to a lot more success than sitting down and making a list of what makes a good person and trying to make them learn everything on the list as soon as possible.
When it’s the best time to start bonding with my children?
Bonding with your children can be a bit tricky, we know, and it gets trickier as they grow up. That’s why the best moment to start bonding with them is right away. You have to set the foundation of what will become a more enriching and stronger relationship with every passing year. So it’s safe to say that the first two years of your child’s life are crucial for this purpose.
When you work on your bonding from the very early months, you set the perfect tone for the experience. You’re showing them that the world is a welcoming and trusting place of which they are a part of. They start to feel that they are safe, that they are loved, and they start to trust both you as parents and their little world. Even if they can’t identify those feelings as what they are, they intuitively internalize that message and that will help them be more confident as they take their first steps into understanding the world.
As a parent, you have to aim to create more and more quality moments and make as many wonderful memories as you can. I know that our busy lives can sometimes limit the process a bit, but what’s most important is that you always find time to bond with your children when they’re little and as they grow up.
How can I bond with my child?
So, now that we know when to start and why it’s important, it’s time to figure out how to create those bonding moments that we want to achieve. There are many activities that you can try that won’t take crazy amounts of time and that they can be smoothly integrated into your life’s routine, meaning they can easily become habits that you can all enjoy as a family.
Now let’s take a look at some of the best ways to having meaningful, bonding and fun moments with our babies and our toddlers!
It’s that simple! One of the best ways to bond with your newborn and your toddler in general is to touch them. You can have cuddle sessions with your newborn after breast-feeding or as you get them to sleep; you can also soothe them with gentle strokes and massages. Hug your toddlers, kiss them and be kind to them even when you’re disciplining them. Hold their hands as you explain why something they did was wrong and what they can do to be better.
Some older kids don’t quite enjoy all the smooching and hugging, but there are still ways to have close contact and still respect their preferences; you can dance together, you can have friendly wrestles (this is a popular one for dads), high-fives are also a great way to keep the contact, but do try to steal a hug or a kiss on special occasions.
One of the great ways to bond with your baby is to sing and talk to them even if they can’t understand you just yet. As they start saying their first words, encourage them and tell them stories. The sooner you start making reading a habit, the better. So, read to them to get them to relax in order to sleep and it will become a very special routine as they get older. Reading to your toddlers will give you many opportunities to have a conversation with them as they start asking questions. Make it interesting and interactive by making voices, sharing stories you used to love as a kid, and maybe include your child into the stories when you can.
Another great communication and bedtime habit is to ask them a few questions while you tuck them into bed. Questions like: What is the best thing that happened to you today? What’s the worst? What’s the silliest? Did you learn something that you would like to share with me?
These questions will create a space for them to share, and you have to make sure you accept what they tell you and don’t devalue their experiences. If they have trouble coming up with words, it’s a great opportunity to help them expand their language. If they’re not very enthusiastic about sharing, don’t push it and try again the next day. If your kids are a bit older and this is not something you used to do, it can be a bit awkward at first, but you’ll get there.
Crafts and projects
Toddlers love to make and break things, so one of the best things you can do in order to bond with them is coming up with crafts and projects that they might find interesting. Working together to create something is one of the best ways to both teach them new skills and get to know them.
You can find millions of craft projects online and if your toddler is having a fixation on something like maybe animals, superheroes, cowboys or a specific character, you can find ways to incorporate this into your projects to make it more appealing to them. If they have any artistic interests like painting or drawing, make sure you take advantage of this and encourage it through your crafts and projects.
Create rituals and routines
Habits can have great long-term effects on your children. They’re as important as their diet and environment, so one of the ways to bond with them is to create little rituals that you both enjoy. There are many ways to do this, you can sing a bedtime song, you can have a set family game night on Sundays or any other day that works for everyone, you can make them their favorite pancakes on weekends, you can also have monthly dates with your older kids where you take them to the mall, to eat ice cream, or to have a little dinner and just talk about what’s going on with them.
These little rituals can turn into special traditions that they will enjoy even as they get older. Plus, it makes for incredible memories that you will all treasure as a family. Nothing can ever replace something as magical as that!
Be their friend and share yourself
Toddlers tend to be quite clingy and intense about spending time with you, so you have to take advantage of this stage in their lives because they grow up really fast. So, as long as you have their attention, you have to take it and create a strong bond with them that will last you forever.
Share stories with them about your own childhood, show him all of the games and things you enjoyed when you were little, include them into your hobbies and your everyday activities (like making dinner or gardening), you can take them to your favorite spots and places around town and share that space with them and explain why you like it so much; it can be your favorite spot in the park, the beach, the wilderness, etc.
You can also take a moment and join their games when they’re playing, if they’re being silly and goofy, don’t be afraid to be silly and goofy with them. Have fun, let loose with them, dance around, laugh, tickle each other, impersonate characters, etc. Children don’t expect parents to just be like them for a while, so when you are, they know that it’s special and personal.
These are just a few of the ways you can personally bond with your babies and toddlers, but they’re also great ways to get the whole family bonding together. Some of these activities they can do with daddy or with their sisters and brothers; it’s important that children create bonds and share special little things with each member of the family. Everyone can find their own habit or ritual to share with the little ones!