part of getting along as a family written by : Robert Myers , Phd ,Psychologist
problems, problems, I can't connect with my kids , why? well, there are different ways you can actually connect with your kids in these days and age. I am going to pick 8 of them here:
Talk (and Listen) to Them
The most basic way to connect with your children is to talk to them. That's right, Tell them about your day and ask about theirs. Try to remember everything they tell you. Children have a memory that just won’t quit sometimes, and they expect you to have the same. Ask them questions. It’s important for children to feel like you care about what they have to say. Asking questions about what they told you it proves you were listening and want to know more. Don’t expect your kids to tell you everything about themselves in one sitting. It takes time to build the kind of connection you are looking for, especially with teens and older children who are still feeling rebellious.
Take an Interest in their Interests
Sometimes just talking doesn’t work for all kids. They may have built their guard up too high to realize that you just want to help them. In this case it may be a good idea to consider doing something else together. If your child likes to play video games, ask for the second controller and play too. Maybe help them with an art project they’re working on. You can try to get involved in anything they like to do. They may still try to shut you out sometimes, but eventually you will find something to do together.
Just try not to seem judgmental about their hobbies. If they aren’t hurting anyone, then you shouldn’t be concerned. If they start to feel that you don’t appreciate what they love, they will start to push you further away.
Invite Them into Your World
If you can’t find common ground in the things they like to do, maybe you should look for some in the things you enjoy. It’s not uncommon for children to forget that parents or guardians are people too. If you’re willing to show them who you are, then perhaps they will open up and do the same. You can invite them to one of your favorite shows or sporting events. Let them meet some of your coworkers. If your children are old enough, then you can take them with you to the gym or your yoga class. Anything can work as long as you can get them interested.
You may find that you simply have no current interests in common with your child. That’s OK. In this case, you can talk to them about finding something new for the two of you to do together. Try to find something that neither of you have done and you both find at least mildly interesting, and start together. Neither of you will be the leader in this activity because no one has more experience. Even if you find out that you both hated the activity, you at least have a mutual experience to work with.
You can also make this a family activity. Whether it is building model airplanes or learning to golf as a family, shared life experiences create greater feelings of connectedness in families. Make sure the skill or pastime you decide to pursue is something each member of your family is happy to learn or try. If you are having a hard time coming up with ideas on your own, invite your children to make suggestions until you each agree on your new hobby.
There’s a Time for Friendship and a Time for Parenting
It’s great to be your child’s friend. The feeling is unmatched. But it can be easy to take it too far. You should never forget that you are a guardian first. You are there primarily to see to it that the child in your care is safe and grows up well. A balance must be found between parenting and friendship. You need your child to trust you enough to tell you about the things going on around you but also to feel safe enough to seek true guidance from you.
Kids can be difficult. It may seem that no matter what you try, you’re still feeling just as distant from them as when you started. Don’t give up. They know what you’re trying to do, and on some level, they appreciate it, even if they don’t make it obvious right now. If nothing else, they will at least think of you when they face any struggles and remember that at least one person cares for them. Sometimes that’s enough.
Implement a screen-free dinner
Now a days More families than ever spend their dinner time sitting around a television set or playing with their cell phones. One way to become more connected is to implemen a strict, noscreen policy for one hour during dinnertime. It may feel strange at first, but as you begin to make this policy a part of your regular routine, you and your family will naturally begin to open up more and experience a more connected environment.
Spend one-on-one time with each child
Having one-on-one time with each child in your family will allow you each to connect on a deeper and more meaningful way. Make sure whatever activity you choose to do together includes fun and also time for private conversation.
It is not uncommon for adults and children to occasionally feel mentally depleted. An easy way to respect everyone’s need to unwind and relax without the pressure of conversation and cooking is by doing a weekly family night, where you rent a movie, order take-out food and just relax together as a family.
Take an interest in your child’s passions
Being interested in the things your child enjoys may seem intimidating at first, but it can be one of the most rewarding ways you ever connect with them. If your child is musical it may be a good idea to sign them up for lessons, if they like to build things a robotics club could help them fine tune their skills. When you take notice in the things that are important to your child and give them opportunities to polish their skills, they will feel more connected than ever because your involvement teaches them that their contribution to your family matters.
Family Meetings Are a Great Way to Stay Connected
Communication is the key to living together in harmony. It doesn’t matter if your family is small (two partners) or large (partners and various children) – family meetings are a great way for a family to stay connected.
Relationships can be tough. You may be going along fine when all of a sudden something is said and misunderstood. Before you know it there’s a rift in your relationship and someone’s feelings are hurt. Whether you’re a parent or a child, you’ll want to repair you relationship as quickly as possible.
Family meetings can be used by parents to establish ground rules for the children to follow. They can teach children or teens how to solve problems with parents role playing with them. They can also be the perfect time for allowing family members to discuss things which are important to the family as a whole. Ultimately, they help you stay connected as a family which will keep the family strong.
Establishing regular family meetings will give everyone in your family a chance to work toward a central goal. Everyone gets to voice their opinions and help make decisions in a family meeting. Your child who hasn’t been very good at expressing themselves in the past may finally find their voice and be willing to make their feelings known.
You decide who to include in your family meeting. It could include your immediate family but if there’s something that affects your extended family who lives nearby you may want to include them as well. It is possible you may even want to include people who are renting from you if what you discuss pertains to them. You make the rules, so you decide who to include.
Try to have an agenda for your family meeting even if it’s just a loose one. Set some ground rules as far as behavior is concerned. You want everyone to feel safe during the meeting and not like they’re being attacked. Decide ahead of time to try to keep the meeting short and to the point. Your goal is to address topics which matter the whole family as well as give everyone a chance to express their feelings on the topic at hand.
Rather than discussing only problems or behavioral issues, try to use your family meeting as a time to congratulate your children for doing well in school, for an adult getting a raise or something else that’s positive. If all you talk about at family meetings are the bad things going on, no one will want to be at the meeting and they may blow them off. Having positive things to talk about will help keep people’s attention.
Take a little bit of time during each family meeting to do something or plan something fun. Keep the family calendar handy so you can see what dates are available for a trip to the zoo, a movie or dinner out. Give your family something to look forward to, particularly if everyone has been trying to do better about working together.
Empathy: Teaching Kids to Value Others
Empathy is one of those strange qualities – something almost everyone wants, but few know how to truly give or receive it. In a world where self-gratification is emphasized, it is in short supply but high demand. This is all the more reason to teach the next generation what it means to have empathy for those around them.
What Is Empathy?
Many people confuse sympathy and empathy, but they are two distinct values. Empathy is not just the ability to understand someone’s feelings; criminals often take advantage of people by appearing to understand their feelings and subsequently gaining their trust. Empathy is more than that. Not only is it the ability to recognize how someone feels, but it also values and respects the feelings of another person. It means treating others with kindness, dignity, and understanding.
Kids Need to See Adults Show Empathy
While some children are gifted with naturally kind hearts, in most cases kids need to see empathy modeled by the adults around them. It begins with the way parents relate to their children. Parents who show an interest in the things that matter to their kids and respond to emotions in a positive and caring way are teaching the skill of empathy.
Meet Emotional Needs
When children have their emotional needs met, two things happen. They learn how to meet the emotional needs of others and they are anchored in what they are receiving, meaning that they are secure enough to give to others when the need arises but first they need to receive. An empty jug cannot fill a cup.
Talk To Kids About Emotional Needs
Many adults find it hard to talk about emotional needs or anything related to emotions. Consequently, they spend their lives tiptoeing around the subject of emotions. These are people who don’t know how to handle the emotions of others and are uncomfortable with any situation that calls for an emotional response. Sometimes they are afraid of their own emotions because they have never learned how to deal with emotional needs.
It’s a good idea to talk to kids about emotions and how other people experience them. Give their emotions names (for example, jealousy, anger, and love) and teach them that these are normal. Talk to them about how to handle emotions in a positive way and point out situations where other people are experiencing emotions. Teach them about respecting the emotions of others and show them how to act in a situation where a response is required.
Look for Real Life Situations to Practice Empathy
There is nothing like a real life example to model what you are teaching. Look for situations that affect another person and talk to your kids about what it means to the people involved and how they might feel. For example, if you see an ambulance speed past, talk about how the family members of the sick person might be feeling.
Develop Their Inner Moral Compass
Teaching your kids the difference between right and wrong from a young age gives them a strong internal moral compass that will direct them to make good choices. In situations that require a decision, help them to see how our choices and behavior affect others. Talk to them about how wrongdoing harms others and help them to see the hurt and damage that it causes. It’s a good idea to talk to them about the little things such as calling a sibling an unkind name that hurts her feelings or refusing to play with their brother when friends visit. When building a strong moral foundation, start small and begin with the basics.
Empathetic Kids: Givers Not Takers
By raising your kids to understand and practice empathy, you’re giving them the gift of giving. In a world where great emphasis is placed on looking out for your own interests, people who are givers are all too rare. But they are the ones who enjoy the greatest satisfaction from life, live the most meaningful lives, and enjoy more rewarding relationships. Teaching your kids empathy is a worthwhile investment for their own futures and for the world they will inhabit.