The 4R’s Re-visited: Building Relationships With Our Children
Posted by homeschoolmentormom on June 14, 2014
Building relationships should be the focus of our lives and our homes. As I say in my tab on relationships (above),
“Developing relationships is the most important part of any homepreschool/homeschool. We must help our children grow strong, loving relationships—first with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and next within our families. Many of us say that this is our priority, but in truth, it is not. If helping our children develop a close relationship with God was really our priority, it would be reflected in the amount of time we spend reading Bible stories to our children, memorizing the Word with them, praying with them (and for them), and worshiping together. (Discipleship.)
If it really is our priority to build strong, loving relationships with our children, that priority should be reflected in our behavior as well. Specifically, it should be reflected in the amount and type of time we spend with our children. Children need both quality and quantity time. Quality time involves more than just our presence—a warm body alone is not enough. (Too often we are “with” our children without paying any real attention to them.) Instead, our relationship-building efforts should be concentrated in several specific areas: Building quality conversations (which is a two way street, involving listening and speaking), time spent playing together (which lets us into their imaginary world), and time spent reading aloud to our children. Reading aloud to our children is one of the most important ways to build relationships with them, and also, help them learn.
I’m sad to say that we too often neglect what is most important (building strong relationships) in favor of other priorities (early academics, our own interests, etc.)
We must take the time to “make the main thing the main thing”, and teach our children about the Lord while they are young.”
Here are some ways to build relationships with our children—and help our children build close relationships with God.
~Spend quality time with your children. Be fully engaged: Not half-listening while you are updating your status on Facebook, watching television, or talking on the phone. In fact, limiting your screen time will do a lot to help you build relationships. But take it even further: Limit your children’s “screen time”, too. Even having the television on in the background has been proven to be detrimental to young children. In truth, the television (and even those special “educational” programs and DVD’s) is not good for young children. They are not what they need. Nothing can replace face-to-face interaction with real people.
~Spend time talking to your children. Have real conversations, which involve listening and talking—a back-and-forth proposition. Let them tell you about their latest toy, art project, or whatever. Even if you really could care less about it, act as if you do care, and make yourself listen attentively. Pray and ask God to help you care. God cares about even the smallest detail of our lives. We should care about our children in the same way.
Set aside time for talking with your children, and take advantage of the time that happens naturally, during your normal daily routine–dinner time and bedtime are wonderful opportunities to connect with your children, no matter their age.
~Play with your children. The window of opportunity is small! Soon enough your children won’t be as open to this. While they are young, children welcome their parents into their pretend world. This not only helps you build closeness with your child, but helps you understand their thought processes, too. Often children’s play reveals a lot about how they feel, what has been bothering them, and so on.
~Play games with your children! Begin to teach your children to play games (not computer or video games, but board games and card games) when they are three and a half or four years old. You can introduce the “rules” gradually, if you want to; you can even use small treats as counters, if you want to. The key is: Make it fun!
Games teach lots of important social skills, attention skills, and can “teach” pre-math skills, too. For more game ideas, see my post on “playing games with preschoolers.”
~Reading aloud to your children: Reading aloud is a natural bonding time. Pick a classic picture book, get comfy, cuddle, and read!! Allow your children to participate in the reading by chiming in with repetitive pages, pointing to the pictures, and so on. Allow them to ask questions, and take the time to answer them….in other words, pay attention to them! Don’t just rush through the book as if reading is a chore to be done as quickly as possible. Suggested book: I Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch.
~Use a gentle, loving touch: Touch communicates so much. A touch of the hand, the ruffling of the hair, holding hands, cuddling…all of these communicate love.
~Say the words: “I love you.” Say them often! In our family, we sing “I love you” songs, and even have a secret signal that means “I love you.” The words, “I love you, no matter what,” or “I love you forever, to the moon and back,” mean the world to children. We even sing songs of our love for them (“I love you, a bushel and a peck,” or “You are my sunshine.”)
~Make holidays special: Keeping family traditions gives children security, draws us closer to each other, and bonds our family together in a distinct unit. Many of the holidays also gives us the opportunity to share our faith with our children.
~Do special things for your kids: Surprise them with their favorite dinner or favorite treat. Tell them why: “Just because I love you.”
~In summary, the key to developing close relationships with our children is three-fold: love, conversation, and time.
Let your little ones be strongly attached to you. Don’t rush preschoolers into premature independence through a lack of the time and security that you can provide. Let them know you love them. Set aside/plan special time to spend with them. Talk to the all the time, and let them talk too: Really listen. Be there for them. Give them the security of knowing they can count on you to care for them, no matter what. These simple things are all you need to help you grow close, loving relationships with your children.
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