It turns out, actually, that Attachment Parenting over all is practically one of the Five Protective Factors by the US Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (that's a mouthful)!
For the month of April, their website features a Strengthening Families and Communities Resource Guide, The Five Protective Factors, Tip Sheets, an Activity Calendar and more. All of it looks like an incredible resource. I really encourage you to check them out and help spread the word about this resource.
One of the Five Protective Factors, Nurturing and Attachment, speaks specifically to building connections with your child:
A child’s early experience of being nurtured and developing a bond with a caring adult affects all aspects of behavior and development. When parents and children have strong, warm feelings for one another, children develop trust that their parents will provide what they need to thrive, including love, acceptance, positive guidance, and protection.
I'd like to offer you 10 Simple Ways to Connect with Your Child:
- Be affectionate. You can do this in so many ways with all ages of children- hugs and kisses, snuggles, holding or carrying, holding hands, rough housing, saying "I love you," or giving compliments.
- Play with your child. Learn what they enjoy doing, do it with them and do it often. It's not just about he quality of time its the pattern and consistency of your involvement that builds trust.
- Eat together. Family meals are a perfect way to connect on a daily basis. Even if it's not doable 7 days a week, sharing a meal a few times a week is just as important. Be sure to put away the cell phones and TV so that you can be present to each other.
- Complete a project or goal together. This can be building a tree house or creating artwork with your little one. It could be running a 5k or redecorating the bedroom with your teenager. It gives direction and focus to your time together and sets up an easy avenue of communication. If you invest time in your child, he is more likely to open up to you.
- Talk with him. The key is to talk with them, not at them. Show that you are genuinely interested in what they have to talk about, and be open to answer questions they have for you. Then, be willing to...
- Listen to him. Because, sometimes, even children don't necessarily want to talk, but they need some one to simply be there and listen. As a teenager, I remember feeling most comfortable opening up to the people who would simply listen to me without immediately spitting back advice or judgement if I came to them with a problem.. Just being there to listen and asking before giving feedback can go a long way..
- Understand and know where he is developmentally. It helps to form appropriate expectations of your child if you know what they are capable of doing. If you are expecting something beyond their development, its easy to disconnect. As my boys grow into each stage of life, I research how they are changing so that I can continue to meet them on their level and speak their "language."
- Trust your child. Of course, this comes with age, but if you work to connect with your child in other ways and understand where he is developmentally, you can feel how much trust to give him. And if you give a little trust, you gain a little trust. When I was younger, the relationship I had with my mom was full of open communication and connection because of how much she trusted me. In turn, because she trusted me, I often trusted that I could be open with her.
- Find something you have in common and do it together. This seems especially important for an older child. Either way, this give your child an opportunity to see you as a confident, happy adult doing something that you love and validating what they love to do.
- Get to know your child's friends. For now, most of Everett's friends are the children of my friends, but I know that won't last much longer. He'll come to the age where his friends will come from other places and, slowly, spending time with those friends will become more important than spending time with me. The same goes for everyone. But, if you take the time to get to know your child's friends, like I plan on doing with Everett's, you'll be more likely to stay in the main picture for longer. You may get double points if his friends like you, too.