Connecting With Children
From Webster: CONNECT: To join or become joined together. To associate or consider as related. To join to or by means of a communications circuit. To make a connection.
When we connect, we make a link….to one another, to hearts, minds, spirits. If it is even for one second, we share a communion, a oneness. It is a natural high. It is a form of peak communication. There is no limit to how many times this can happen in one’s life. Recent research indicates that children who feel connected to others have more self-confidence, do better with academic achievement, know how to build and maintain healthy relationships, are good problem solvers and have a greater sense of responsbility in their world. Connecting with children is making an investment in their future while enriching your relationship with them. WIN-WIN! Connecting heals us all.
How can I tell if I am really connecting with children?
Eye contact is a great start. Watch and listen to young children. Connection can be felt emotionally. Children will show you what they want and need to feel in order to know they are connected to you. Connecting will take shape in different forms with various stages and ages of children. If you are open, flexible, spontaneous and have the intention to connect with children, you will find many ways to do so. Connecting will bring “aha” or an “oh” or sometimes a chuckle. It can bring a sigh of mutual relief or sadness. It can come in many ways. Watch. Listen. Feel. Be aware of ‘joining’ with children. It is sometimes a glimpse, a sound, a motion, an activity, a shared insight.
Connecting with children is not simply having them listen to a new rule or doing what you want them to do. It isn’t just wanting them to hear YOUR voice and requests, to understand what you want. Enter into their world, see through their eyes and let them know you are with them. This will assist the developing brain and emotional intelligence of children in a way that expands their awareness to be able to connect with you through simple ways in their world, and also in yours. If a child shows you a new discovery such as being able to jump or turn a doorknob by herself, acknowledge it by commenting with a compliment and encouragement. To further share in this connecting moment, let child know you remember just last week when the child could not accomplish this task and how much child has grown. Then watch the child’s eyes and expression! Connecting nurtures the ability to understand, empathize and be compassionate. Connecting warms hearts, connects minds and uplifts the spirit. Connecting with children lets them know they are not alone and have value as part of a family system, school class, or play group.
What are good ways to begin connecting with children?
Be creative! Be silly! Be fun! Be open! Be receptive! Be childlike! Be WITH! Be playful! Be thoughtful and solve problems together. Be silent together. Be loud together. Be active in song together.
Pay attention. And for heaven’s sakes, LAUGH WITH CHILDREN. It is one of the highest, happiest ways to share an incredible communion with another person. PLAY!
It is sometimes a glimpse, a sound, a motion, an activity, a shared insight, gesture or expression.
When children feel they are connected to others, it is enlivening and acknowledging to them. They do not feel isolated or alone. They gain confidence as though they have cheerleaders who are cheering them on. They feel understood. Needed. Important. Taking time to connect with children means you share a world and precious moments in life. “What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.”(Coleridge)
Simple Connecting Activities with Preschool Children
- Take turns making funny faces. For example, what does a fly’s face look like when his nose itches and he can’t find a place to land? A dog’s face that has to sneeze? A kitty who sings meow with a really low voice. Play. Ask child to think of silly things to do together. Then do it!
- Artwork. Color feelings. Choose a feeling such as happy and color what that looks like to each of you. Talk about it.
- Blow bubbles for each other to pop by jumping on them on the ground. If child is too young to blow bubbles, you blow them and both of you jump and pop them. Connect through the popped bubbles!
- Sing. March. Dance. Hold each other’s hands and spin in a circle while making spinning sounds together. Laugh!
- Find some old fashioned sticks outdoors. Let child make up beginning of a story and you can add to story back and forth with more sticks, blades of grass, flowers, leaves, etc.
- CREATE together. There’s a special feeling when we are creative with one another.
- See how many ways you can laugh with hahahahahaha or hohohohohoho. Fast. Slow. Loud. Silly up and down. Whispering.