In order to build strong relationships with kids, it’s essential to connect with them first. Connection makes kids feel important, valued, and loved; promotes security in the relationship; and establishes the closeness and trust necessary for it to grow. If you want to invest in the children in your life, follow these 5 tips for connecting with kids.
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For someone who, at one point in time, wasn’t all that sure about kids, it’s funny how much of my life I now spend with them. Between raising my own as a stay-at-home mom, teaching children’s classes at church, and volunteering in my son’s kindergarten classroom, I spend nearly every waking minute with at least one child.
And I absolutely love it.
Not only did God change my heart towards kids, He’s continuing that good work by steadily building a gift in me for working with them. I mean, I’m no Mary Poppins or anything, but I’ve definitely come a long way from the girl who was, frankly, a little scared of them. And I’m completely convinced He’s growing this gift that was once SO not my natural inclination in order to display His glory. To make it 100% clear that this is coming from Him, and not from me.
All that to say, I now spend a lot of time with kids, and it has become such a joy to me. I want to show each and every one of them how much I love and care for them.
To that end, I have learned, through both research (yes, I actually researched this – I research everything!) and personal experience, a few tips for connecting with kids.
Whether it’s with your own children or ones you work with in some capacity, here are 5 tips for connecting with kids.
5 Tips for Connecting With Kids
In order to build strong relationships with kids, it is essential to connect with them first. Connection makes kids feel important, valued, and loved; promotes security in the relationship; and establishes the closeness and trust necessary for the relationship to grow. If you want to invest in the children in your life, follow these 5 tips for connecting with kids.
1. Spend time with them!
Quality time together is essential for connecting with kids (or anyone, for that matter!). There really are no shortcuts or substitutes. Kids have to know we care about them, and that requires spending time with them. It shows we value them, encourages communication, and provides opportunities for building rapport.
Related Post: 10 Ways to Get One-on-One Time With Your Kids
2. (Really) Listen.
As you spend time together, make sure you listen to what they have to say. And I don’t mean nodding your head while your focus is on something else or your mind is a million miles away. I mean REALLY listen.
Get down on their level, look them in the eyes (unless that makes them uncomfortable, because some kids are like that), give them your full attention, and then respond appropriately to show you’re listening.
Try not to interrupt, and resist the urge to correct or jump into problem-solving mode. Unless they specifically ask for your help or advice, connection conversations are rarely a good time to critique, correct, or comment. That will only shut them down and break any connections you might be making. There will be other (better) times and ways to guide them.
3. Ask them questions about themselves.
Most Kids LOVE to talk about themselves. (Most people do, in general!) So, if you want to connect with kids, ask them questions! Ask them about their hobbies and interests, their special skills and talents (I’ve found that kids love talking about what they’re good at!), how their day went, their favorite ______, what they don’t like, what their friends are like, what they think about, what they want to be when they grow up, etc. They’ll be delighted to tell you!
Just make sure it doesn’t end up feeling like an interrogation. (That’s easier to avoid with younger kids. I’ve found that the older kids get, the more resistant they become to a bunch of questions.) Following up with the response to an already-asked question might be better than asking a whole new question.
Related Post: 25 Engaging Questions to Ask Kids About Their Day
4. Step into their world.
When connecting with kids, they need to know you honestly want to get to know them. And that means taking an interest in their interests – whether you’re fascinated by the subject (the latest robot they just built) or you couldn’t care less (every character in their favorite TV show). That doesn’t mean you have to lie or “fake it” – you can be interested in them regardless of your feelings about the topic.
It matters that we acknowledge what our children love because through that we acknowledge that they count, that they are valued, and that they are valuable. — Purposeful Play
Here are some practical ways to do this:
- Observe them while they play, and take note of their favorite toys/games/activities.
- Listen to them when they talk about their interests (no matter how many times you’ve heard it before).
- Ask them questions about their latest passion. (They’ll be delighted you initiated the conversation!)
- Participate in one of their favorite activities with them.
- Encourage them in their interests and provide opportunities to pursue them.
Related Post: 7 Ways to Encourage Your Kids’ Curiosity (And Why You’d Even Want To)
5. Affirm them
My final tip for connecting with kids is to affirm them, affirm them, affirm them. Encourage them in their pursuits and interests. Point out the strengths and skills you see in them (and coach them to use those gifts constructively). Help them develop a positive self-image. And speak life and hope into their futures.
Related Post: 25 Affirmations to Make Your Kids Feel Loved
SHARE WITH US: Do you have more tips to add? Tell me what you’ve learned about connecting with kids in the comments below!
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Share your thoughts!