What is one thing that will make the difference in your relationship with kids, how much they learn from you, and your level of happiness?
The ability to connect with your kids.
When kids feel you value them and care about them as human beings, they are more likely to listen to you and learn from you. Forming a connection with kids is not as difficult and time-consuming as most people imagine.
I’ve pulled together fifty ideas from positive psychology and neuroscience research that you can do today to create and nurture that connection.
- Look into kids’ eyes and smile.
- Pretend that their high five is so powerful it nearly knocked you over.
- Slow down and do the next activity at the kids’ pace.
- Gently rest your hand on a child’s back when you are looking at the same book.
- Let go of how you thought it was going to be.
- Give a compliment.
- Use puppets to get your point across even if it feels foolish at first.
- Defer to their decision when possible.
- Do yoga poses together. Research shows that synchronized movement creates bonding.
- Take time to have a long conversation.
- Seek to understand their emotions.
- Sing your request in an opera style voice.
- Pay attention to kids’ interests and take time to learn more together.
- Laugh at their jokes.
- Make an activity jar.
- Squeeze their shoulder gently when they are standing in front of you to show that they have your full attention.
- Before replying, pause and consider if a kinder response is possible.
- Disagree respectfully: “I see it differently because…”
- Use meaningful praise (101 alternatives to “good job”)
- Acknowledge things that go right.
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21. I’m glad you are here.
22. I believe in you.
23. I know you can do it.
24. I like talking to you.
25. I’m proud of you.
26. You’ve got a big heart.
27. You have a lot of grit.
28. I’m curious about what you are thinking.
29. I enjoyed teaching you x, y, x today.
30. Tell me more about … [insert: kids’ interests, hobbies, aspirations].
31. What does your instinct tell you?
32. Why do you think this happened?
33. So, then, how did you feel about that?
34. Share a story from their past learning adventures.
35. Listen to kids and surprise them later by showing that you remember what they told you.
36. Use humor, tell a joke, chuckle at yourself.
37. Use a kind voice.
38. Take care of their needs and be consistent.
39. Refrain from offering solutions.
40. Play with kids, join in their play, or ask them to play with you.
41. Give them your full attention.
42. Act silly: jump as high you can, and invite kids to do the same.
43. Make a big deal of their accomplishments.
48. On their side.
49. Available when they need you, not when you’re done with your agenda.
50. Their greatest cheerleader!