During the holidays, some of our fondest memories are formed. We share gifts, company, good food and lots of laughter. We eat together, watch our favorite movies, and make a deliberate effort to spend as much time as humanly possible with our families. Central to this holiday theme is the creation of fun, magic, and love. We want our kids to feel cherished, to know that they are appreciated as the special beings that they are. In lots of ways, they are our own miracles, and the end of the year always reminds us that we need to make them more of a focal point in our lives.
Here's how to connect with your kids this busy holiday season...
The joy of the holiday season is knowing that our children are excited. Maybe you like the decorations and the cooking, but chances are, your kids are the best gig in town when it comes down to it. You may be feeling a lot of external pressure and holiday stress. Family gatherings can be emotionally tense, and the end of the year can pose a lot of stress at work. In order to create balance, it’s important that we know how to genuinely connect with our children.
Take an interest in their lives. More than anything, children need to know that we care. They have so much that they are learning and exploring for the first time in their lives and they need to know that you are there for them. Imagine the first time you rode the subway or fastened your seat belt on a rollercoaster—your child’s experiences are all fascinating because they are emotionally tuned in to the experience of awe.
In order to instill a sense of safety, security, and confidence in our little ones, it is absolutely vital that they feel connected to us, as we are their source of protection and guidance for how to act in the outside world.
Ask about their day and make sure to listen to what they learned. Allow your children to discuss what’s on their minds, ask what they are thinking and feeling. More than just the textbooks that they are studying in their history lessons, try to get them talking about their friends, when they had fun, and how they can learn from what went wrong today.
Treat your child. Pulling through the drive-thru unexpectedly can be a great reward after a long day or a tough week at school. While fast food should not be a normal habit, admittedly it is nice to get an ice cream cone or onion rings every once in awhile.
Cook a meal together. Whenever possible, include your kids in the cooking process so they feel like they are helping you with your “grown-up chores.” Turn off all of your electronic devices and simply spend time with them. While your meal is cooking, look through last year’s photo album or pick up a magazine that interests them. Get them away from their videogames and television so that you can really connect with your kids.
Find a few minutes to do their “thing” with them. Whether it’s finding time to shoot hoops in the driveway, or flying airplanes in their videogames, try to show that you are interested in what they like and let them show you how it’s done. If you aren’t used to picking up a ball or controller, it will really mean a lot to them that you are taking an interest—even if they beat you!
Text your children. If they are old enough to have a cellphone, don’t always use the phone for an emergency or to find out where they are. Sometimes, texting them to show your love and support, or to strike up a funny dialogue can really go a long way. You’ll be surprised what you might learn about them after a lengthy text chat.
Make sure your kids are your greatest source of joy this holiday season. Let them know how much they mean to you. Before you open presents, make sure that they know that you love them before a dollar is ever spent.
You can ensure your children focus on what’s truly important during the holidays by stressing real, genuine conversation and thoughtfulness...instead of placing the importance on how busy you are and how stressful the holidays can be. When you show your kids that they truly are the most important thing in your life, you will begin to see them with a renewed sense of wonder, as the two of you become closer.
Try showing your kids your appreciation by picking up their favorite candy bar "just because" or taking them to their favorite store for a special gift. Sometimes, it’s the little, unexpected acts that speak the loudest and make kids feel like they are truly loved.
More ideas to help you connect with your kids this holiday season: