How to Connect with Your Toddler & Strengthen Your Bond
Between the ages of 1-3, toddlers are rapidly learning about themselves and the world around them. They become self-aware and realise they are separate people from their parents and carers.
Whilst your toddler will naturally become more independent with time, this does not mean your bond will weaken. Your child will still rely entirely on you to look after them, but connecting with your child is not all about being physically present.
Emotional presence is the key to building strong, long-lasting bonds with your children.
So, what exactly does this entail? Here’s how to connect with your toddler to strengthen your bond.
How To Connect with Your Toddler:
Give lots of positive recognition and praise
Specific praise that acknowledges your child’s positive actions helps them to learn, encourages motivation and generally nurtures their confidence and self-esteem.
But, most importantly, it will show them you value them and help them to feel secure in your presence.
You can give your child praise and encouragement in so many everyday situations. Whether they make a beautiful piece of artwork or simply put their toys away when you ask, you can give them some specific praise to make them feel loved and appreciated.
Create specific “family times”
Do you have specific times of the day or week that are dedicated to family time?
If not, then we definitely recommend implementing a family time rule. There are many long term benefits to making time for family, including building confidence, communication skills and reduced behavioural issues, as well as instilling good mental health practices from an early age.
But, most importantly, it creates a stronger emotional bond between family members, supporting your children and helping them prepare to face life’s challenges.
So, what are some ways to connect with your toddler using family time? It could be as simple as sitting round the table to eat dinner as a family every night, or you could have a dedicated games or film night. Perhaps you would enjoy a weekly day out as a family, or completing a puzzle together.
Listen to and empathise with your toddler
Empathy is an essential life skill, and just like any human, toddlers want to be listened to and understood. By demonstrating empathy, they can learn it easily, but it’s also important for building a strong bond with your toddler.
You can empathise with your toddler by acknowledging their emotions and being there for them. Often, all it takes is letting your little one know that you understand by telling them. For example, if your toddler is nervous about starting nursery, you can start an open conversation by saying “I understand you’re feeling worried about nursery, can you tell me what’s making you feel like this?”
By taking the time to listen to their problems and talk about the emotions involved, you are promoting good mental health and showing them that they can trust and confide in you.
Allow your toddler to explore their independence
From 1-3 years old, your toddler will progressively grow more independent. Though they will still rely very heavily on you to take care of them, they gain that self-awareness that they are their own person, and will want to explore this.
Some might think that giving your toddler the odd taste of independence will make them grow distant from you. However, by respecting their natural drive to explore, you will actually make them grow closer to you, as you are showing you understand their boundaries.
Some ways you can do this could be giving them more choices, such as “would you rather go to the cinema, or play at the park?” You can also let them gain independence with self care practices, such as brushing their own teeth or picking out their clothes.
Make time for physical connection
Family therapist Virginia Satir once said “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” And that goes for everyone!
In fact, research has shown that when you hug someone for at least 20 seconds, oxytocin is released (the feel good hormone) which creates a stronger bond between two people.
Toddlers love physical contact in order to feel connected with you. This could be snuggling up to watch a film, giving them a big hug when you say goodbye or asking for high-fives when they do something well.
Have one-on-one moments with your toddler
For bigger families, it can be tricker to make sure that every child has the attention they need every day. The Family Peace Foundation suggests at least 8 minutes a day of one-on-one time with each child.
This will help you build warm, involved and communicative parent-child relationships.
Some ideas for one-on-one time include going on a walk together, playing their favourite game and helping them learn to count or read. Try to keep interruptions during this time to a minimum, to show your little one that you are focused and involved when they need you most.
Summary: How To Connect With Your Toddler
- Give lots of positive recognition and praise
- Create specific “family times”
- Listen to and empathise with your toddler
- Allow your toddler to explore their independence
- Make time for physical connection
- Have one-on-one moments with your toddler
Building Connections with Your Toddler at Maryam’s Nursery
At Maryam’s Nursery, the importance of family is deeply rooted in everything we do. Not only do we support your child through their development, but we provide an environment in which your child can be as happy, relaxed and as comfortable as they are at home.