From newborn to preschool, we need to connect in meaningful ways with our little one. We all fall into routines, some are good and some not so good. From time-to-time we should stop and think about the long-term benefits of our ways of connecting with our child.
When they are infants, our quick response to their needs, builds trust. They learn that we know what they need and will take care of them. This is basic to their ability to form secure relationships later in life.
As they get a bit older, we need to begin to develop meaningful patterns and habits of life. In other words, rituals of connection.
Think about how you greet your child when they wake from sleep. You may sing a silly song or rub their back or play peek-a-boo. These help your child get ready for day-time activities. Later, you will settle into routines to get your child up and dressed. These are so much more effective if they are cheerful and reassuring instead of prodding and rushing. Slow down and enjoy these moments together at the beginning the day.
Even while your child is too young to fret when you leave the room, tell them you are going, but will be back. Of course they don’t understand the words when they are very young, but they understand your tone of voice and come to expect you will reappear soon.
Begin a routine way of saying, “Goodbye,” when you have to leave them for day care while you go to work. They may cry for a little bit, but they will come to understand the meaning. Don’t sneak away. Find a pleasant, reassuring way to say you are going, but will be back. As they get older, you can use a favorite phrase or jingle or series of pats and kisses and wink.
Begin a good bedtime, wind down routine. You can begin this very young. A bath, a last bottle, a song, a short rock or cuddle. Put them to bed, just like the room will be during the night, before they are sound asleep. It won’t take long for the routine to help them begin to get sleepy.
When your little one wants your attention, stop what you are doing and give them a few minutes of your undivided attention. It will go a long way to having a contented, cooperative child.
We’ll revisit this topic from time-to-time. It is so important and yet so easy to slip into bad habits. Make a real effort to connect meaningfully with your child.