One of the best parenting hacks I know is to make an effort to really connect with your kids.
Even if you are short on time, these easy ways to connect with older kids can really help to flip your relationship from negative to positive.
“Research shows that we need at least five positive interactions to each negative interaction to maintain a healthy, happy relationship that can weather the normal conflicts and upsets of daily life.” – Aha Parenting
So much of positive guidance and parenting is grounded in having a strong positive connection with our kids, so this simple tip of working on having more positive interactions than negatives ones is important.
I used to think the 5:1 ratio was pretty easy to manage most of the time, but as my kids have gotten older, and busier, I sometimes stop and realise that I’m not doing so great with this.
If I’m honest, I have to admit that sometimes my ratio almost flips and becomes 1:5. With so much time spent directing, organising and hurrying my kids, while these interactions may not be super negative they are definitely not super positive and they don’t nurture the kind of relationship I want us to have.
I’m finding it really important to intentionally focus on my 5:1 when it comes to my school age and tween-age kids and I know it will be even more important as they become teenagers, but it’s not always easy.
I am busy, my kids are busy. The day to day stresses of getting everything done often seems overwhelming and there isn’t much time or energy left for anything. But connecting with your kids in a positive way doesn’t have to be a production. It is the little things that always seem to make the biggest impact when it comes to this.
So I’m refocusing on the 5:1 ratio and putting a little extra effort into making sure I have more positive interactions with my big kids.
Here are ten easy ways to connect with older kids:
- On the way home from school, in the car, at dinner get in the habit of asking them questions. Try to ask an open question like “did anything cool happen today?” and even if they only give a one word answer it is the asking that is important. If you need more ideas try these questions to ask your daughter, and these to ask your son, or try these fun this or that questions for kids to get the conversation started.
- They may not always be available for a chat, but you can write a note or send an email any time. A short message about something positive you noticed them doing, or just something funny is a quick and easy way to connect
- Ask them to help you with something – cooking dinner, doing the shopping – it might sound boring but it is chance to chat and work together.
- If you see something they’d like on instagram, or youtube, or Tiktok, save it and share it with them when you have a moment. (This is also a great opportunity to teach kids about social media and how to use it)
- Take an interest in things they like, you never know, you might enjoy it more than you think!
- Carve out a little extra time together by letting them stay up a little later than usual every once in a while.
- Do something spontaneous, it doesn’t have to big just a little surprise – this week we stopped to get slushies on the way to dance class.
- Seize little moments to play – indulge in a little sock basketball, challenge them to get the cookie from their forehead to their mouth without using their hands, build with Lego, join in wii dance…
- When their favourite song comes on the radio in the car, turn it up LOUD and sing! Or do something else silly and spontaneous to make their day.
- Make time to say goodnight – they may not need me to tuck them in anymore but a hug or a quick chat at bedtime is worth the effort.
Are you parenting 7-12 year olds?
What is your ratio of positive to negative interactions like?
How do you connect with your older kids?