The value of connection: How to raise kids that care.
November 11, 20213 min read
In today’s fast-paced world we parents often feel stretched to capacity. Life is stressful for modern families and spending quality time together can be difficult. As technology engulfs our lives, we’re surrounded by tools enabling us to connect 24/7 yet many of us have never felt so disconnected.
It’s human nature to seek purpose and fulfilment in life and this often comes through our connections with others. Let’s start from the time we all enter the world. Mum’s reassuring touch put us at ease and makes us feel content. As we continue to grow through love, care and compassion, our humanity deepens and we develop empathy. Empathy increases our capacity to forgive, greatly improves our social awareness and enhances the quality of our meaningful relationships.
However, there’s a subconscious need to distract ourselves from feelings of discomfort or pain resulting from circumstances we cannot relate to. How do we do this? We fill our time with things that don’t matter – designer clothes, new mod-cons, fancy cars, bigger houses… Materialism causes us to lose the connection that matters most – the connection with ourselves.
What matters most?
While most of us work hard and deserve nice things, we often distract ourselves with stuff that society deems to be important and we lose sight of the bigger picture. We spend countless hours sifting through social media posts, watching mind-numbing video snippets and seeking instant gratification through online connection. What would happen if we invested that time and energy into ourselves instead?
With kids now spending up to 30% of their waking time in front of a screen* it’s little wonder many of us are concerned. When kids become fixated on screens they disengage with us and stop interacting with siblings or friends. Their brains and bodies aren’t receiving the connection they need to build resilience.
As parents, it’s tempting to reach for the iPad or the smartphone just so we have space to breathe – to occupy our kids, rather than be involved in play. We often do this when sitting at a café with friends just so we can gain a few moments of peace to chinwag over our coffee. We also do it when travelling in the car or on a plane. And, more often than not now, we do it at home just so we can finish a task for work or catch up on some chores.
It doesn’t mean we’re bad parents. It just means we’re human. But it can have consequences. By simply occupying kids rather than engaging or playing with them, some children can lack a sense of purpose in their lives. They may seek gratification from screens, social media and gaming rather than from us.
Lead by example
Early childhood is the time for kids to establish trust and we, as parents, have the privilege to lead and model the values of connection. Adults often make the mistake of trying to “teach” connection – but children inherently know how to connect – they simply need our support. So, through intentional play, we can help them by creating opportunities for those values to be encouraged, explored and elevated.
When looking to make an impact, we naturally turn to the famous changemakers of our time. We forget that it’s often the people within our communities who can inspire us. Teachers, doctors, spiritual leaders, artists…You! We can all have a big impact by doing small things.
I invite you to take a moment to be fully present with your child, to feel gratitude for what you have now and for what you have achieved. To take this a step further, Little Change Creators includes a ‘pay it forward / make change’ token with each mindful colouring-in kit or playtime product so kids learn why gratitude is important and discover how good it feels to give.
Through connection we find meaning and with meaning we are fulfilled. Connection is powerful and holds the key to a strong parent-child relationship.
Make the most of every moment!
*( From Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, 2015 Report)
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