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Is bonding with children difficult for you? Are you having problems with a difficult child? As a teacher, I can give you some great tips. I have raised two kids and have taught other children for many years.
The truth is that you are going to have some rocky periods with your kids. They will probably reject your rules at some point, question your authority, and dislike you. Don’t worry. Some of this is completely normal.
Nevertheless, if you are feeling disconnected from your child, then keep reading. I will give you nine suggestions to do things with your kids that are meaningful and help you bond as a family.
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What Is Family Bonding?
Family bonding is spending time together in meaningful ways. It is time you set aside specifically for you to interact together as a family doing activities or a fun project. The reason to do this is so you develop a solid relationship with your kids.
The problem is that many parents don’t know they need to do this or don’t know what to do.
As a parent, you have the ability to make an incredible impact on your child if you will take the time to make a connection. And reinforce with lots of praise.
You might be tempted to believe spending more time at Chuck E. Cheese or some other place is how you do it, but family bonding runs way deeper.
How Do I Create a Bond With My Children?
There are three levels of bonding with children: kid fun, family fun, and other-oriented fun. It is important to hit all three levels for a solid relationship.
Kid Fun to Help Bonding With Children
“Kid fun” is the lowest level in bonding with children. When your child picks out an activity, it is usually all about him. These activities are child-centered.
Some of these activities may include your child’s sport, favorite place to eat, a movie he wants to see, or any other activity he wants to do.
Whatever your child loves to do, it is important to spend time doing it with him when you can. There are sure to be some great memories of dad jumping in the ball pit, mom getting sick on the roller coaster or some awesome plays made on the field.
The problem is parents stop at the first level. They think this is all there is to build a relationship with their child.
And then they are confused when the relationship falls apart even though they have spent all this time and money with nothing to show for it.
They have given everything to their child and can’t understand why it wasn’t enough.
Family Fun to Help Bonding With Children
Family fun is the second level for bonding with children. You are building on what your child likes and adding another dimension-others. It is not kid-centered, it is family-centered.
It is about creating family activities to help you bond with your child that are fun (and important) as a unit. Don’t forget to praise your kids when they participate with the family. Catch them doing things right. Here are some suggestions:
Sit down together for dinner most nights. Give time for each person in the family to talk. And never discipline at the table other than an occasional reminder of table manners. If you do, it will cut off the communication.
If you will create a non-threatening environment filled with encouragement, your child will feel safe to open up. You will learn things at the table you would never learn anywhere else.
Devotional and Prayer
Read a devotional that focuses on character. I found kid’s devotionals that told stories. They are much more interesting and relatable than facts. Ask a few questions at the end of the story so you can get feedback.
This is a great way to indirectly work on that “lying issue” or whatever else your child struggles with at the time.
Pray together daily at mealtime and bedtime. This is a fantastic way to start teaching empathy. Talk about those who are sick, missionaries, family members hurting, etc.
Let your child pray out loud for these people.
Traditions are a wonderful way to connect with your kids. Some suggestions are baking cookies together, decorating the Christmas tree, cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, Easter egg hunt, Father’s Day shopping, etc
Some of the best traditions happen organically. Perhaps, something only your family does together. One Christmas, when my kids were little, my husband tossed the pancakes from the stove to the table. It was a long way. Some landed on the floor!
The kids loved it. We have done it every year since then. It’s our tradition.
A family vacation is another way to connect with your kids. We have had some really great trips to wonderful places, but camping has been the most rewarding.
Yes, camping. Go figure.
It was especially great because there were no cell phones to interrupt our time together as a family.
I am not the greatest camper. Everyone has laughed at my dumb mistakes like hooking my fishing line on a chair, running from a rubber snake, and burning the food.
I have given the family plenty of stories to tell for years.
Going to church together every week is important for bonding with children. It will help your family grow spiritually. You can talk about what your kids learned at Sunday School afterward. If your kids are older, you can discuss the sermon.
We usually went out to lunch together after church so we could spend the time talking and catching up from the weekend. It was a natural way for us to spend time together.
My kids still enjoy doing this with us as when they are in town.
I have found dead time to be the most rewarding time in bonding with children. The time in the car going to school, driving to church, making dinner, laying in bed talking, or time in the car on a long road trip provided us with a way to let down and be real.
Because dead time is usually not filled with stress, it is easier to talk. Some days there may not be a lot said, other days it may be like a water hose.
The trick is to be available to talk when your child needs you.
It is a great time to encourage your child and his gifts.
Other-Centered Fun to Help Bonding With Children
The best and last tip for bonding with children is through other-centered fun.
Most parents don’t do these types of activities because it takes time, planning, money, and an unselfish heart. And it is a struggle to get your kids to see the importance.
The earlier you start your kids, the easier it is to do these activities together. Expect some attitude from your kids. It’s normal. Just keep going on with your plans.
It may be years later before you see the impact, but I promise, you are doing some of the most important things as a family when you have other-oriented fun. Here are a few suggestions:
Find a place to volunteer together. Don’t just drop your kids off. Stay. Most schools require a certain number of volunteer hours. Use the summer or holidays to do it together.
You will have something to talk about as a family. There will be bonding over what you experienced, and how you made a difference.
We have volunteered at a women’s shelter, we have served meals to the homeless, and we have taken mission trips together as a family. There is real gratification knowing your family made a difference for someone that day. This definitely got to their heart.
For years my family has gone on a mission trip together in the summer.
Both of my kids say this was the best thing we did as parents. It was life-changing for our whole family. If you can’t go, send your kids on a trip. You won’t be sorry.
It was rewarding to see the satisfaction in my children’s eyes after a hard day’s work. They knew they were directly impacting other people and helping them make a better life for themselves.
You may find your children are not excited at first, but keep working with them. They will come along in time if you stick with it.
I can’t tell you how many times my kid’s behavior changed after a mission trip. God worked in their hearts in a way I never could.
Give to Others
Make time to give to others. Find a reputable organization at Christmas time and shop for the gifts together as a family.
If you don’t want to do that, find something in your community you can do as a family to give back. It can be something as simple as finding a family in need and shopping for them together. Or help an older woman with her lawn or house repairs.
Another idea for bonding with children is to donate things your kids are not using. Most kids have more toys and books than they need. Have them go through their stuff and take it together to a Goodwill or a Salvation Army drop off location.
My kids liked doing a lemonade stand in the summer. Have them donate a few of those dollars to someone in need. Teach tithe and offerings with their earned money.
Why Is It Important To Bond With Your Child?
It is important to bond with your child so that you have a strong connection to guide him over his lifetime.
When you connect to your child’s heart, you will have a real opportunity to encourage her to do great things. She will want to do what is right because she doesn’t want to disappoint you or break the trust you have developed.
This isn’t foolproof. Your child will probably still have a few mishaps. But a strong relationship will help you weather the teen years and come out better when you get to the other side.
Remember this: rules without relationship equals rebellion.
Is bonding with children important to you? Tell me why.
Got Big Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!
Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.
This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family, but it also gives solid tips to help you with your family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.
Creating Family Memories Book
Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids. It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.
Join Christian Family Living Facebook Group
Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to share their experiences and get helpful tools to navigate the Christian life. We love to laugh, cry, and encourage each other to live out our faith one day at a time.