10 Ways to Be a More Connected Parent Today

Connected Parenting

Continuing the NaBloPoMo posts that scare me, I’m combining two at once:  “the list post” and “the advice post.” I don’t mind sharing my own experiences in the spirit of sharing and connecting. But, I shy away from giving advice because I believe things are best discovered on our own.

So, here’s my advice on being a more connected parent today, in list form:


  1. Turn off the electronics
  2. Yes, there are always things to do and people to reply to. If you’re not willing to turn these off to be a connected parent right now, then try another time when you do want to. And it’s better to be honest with yourself about this up front and do this when you really want to. You’re the only one who is going to know or judge yourself for when you feel most ready to unplug and tune into your child.

  3. Stop, Look, and Listen
  4. Whatever your expectations about connecting with your child, stop holding onto them. Get down with your child and look at what they’re interested in from their point of view. Stop and look them in the eyes, this time not from adult height, but from child-level. Listen to what they have to say and then ask simple questions to open them up more about it. Be interested.

  5. Be out of control
  6. Stop being the parent for awhile. It’s okay to let go of being in charge of the situation. This means, don’t structure or plan. Don’t look at the clock. Just see where your child wants to explore and go along for the ride.

  7. Put your own issues on hold
  8. If you don’t like it when your child says or does certain things that you feel are rude, overly demanding, or push your buttons for whatever reason, it’s time to put it aside until later. This time is for connecting. The only part of being the responsible parent that you should hold onto is being able to not react to your emotions until another time. It is okay to express your feelings, but do so using “I” statements that support your needs without blame or shame.

  9. Do what your child wants to do
  10. Don’t try to direct the activities. Go along with their imagination. Be the follower and let them lead. Talk about why and how. Be interested in what they’re trying to explore without steering the conversation to things that make sense or have a resolution.

  11. Find the yes in the no
  12. If your child wants to do something that you normally say no to, pause for an extra breath and think about why you’re saying no. Can you say yes? What’s the harm? If you’re not controlling things, maybe you can let it go. If the answer still needs to be no, perhaps it can be rephrased into a yes. Instead, “No. Stop chasing the cat with the lightsaber,” try something playfully positive like, “Lightsabers are for battling with other lightsabers. The cat doesn’t enjoy being chased. I can challenge you to a battle in which I assure you of defeat, Jedi, or you can meet me in a war of Lego building.”

  13. Use your beginner’s mind
  14. Think about what your child might be exploring with their play or speech. Put yourself in their position and imagine what it is like to encounter new things. Be playful with them and support them in trying new things. Failing can be a good thing, especially when someone is with you unconditionally. That’s an important lesson to learn from a parent and it doesn’t take much from us-just the ability to forget all we think we know as the supposedly mature one.

  15. Stop, Drop and Roll
  16. Stop whatever you’re doing. Kick off your shoes. Get on the floor and get physical. Touching, playing and cuddling are all done best at the child’s level and this means getting low. Following their lead to crawl around and be with them on the floor can go a long way to connecting. If your child isn’t responding, just reclining on the floor and relaxing is an invitation to join you. Sometimes the quiet play next to one another can be just as connecting as active play.

  17. Forget those teachable moments
  18. Parents love to make every moment meaningful. But, it can sound like lecturing if it’s done often. And by often, I mean that it’s probably a good idea to bite your tongue about a lesson to learn 99 times out of 100 (if not 100 out of 100.) Sharing teachable moments can suck the joy out of being in the moment. It puts up a wall between you. If you need to spread your parental wisdom, get a blog (no comments from the peanut gallery, please ;p )

  19. Laugh
  20. If you must schedule something, then set a timer to laugh at regular intervals. It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with what you and your child are doing in that moment. You’re not being the adult right now.  Just laugh. Giggle. Decide to be happy. Even if you have to fake the chuckles at first. If you give it a genuine try to fake it until you make it, it’s irresistible.

What else should be added to this list? Have you got numbers 11+ to share? I’d love to hear from you.

NaBloPoMo 2011

14 thoughts on “10 Ways to Be a More Connected Parent Today

  1. This is a great list! I am still trying to figure out how to make these things work with my son. For example, he really thrives on structured time. His therapists would like me to structure the whole day. I think M probably would do better that way, but I also want him to have time to try to develop the skill of being able to explore. I’m also still trying to find the best ways to play with him, since he has trouble with interactive play. I can attest to the benefits of the “stop, drop, and roll” though: we have so much fun wrestling or with me swinging him around the room!

  2. Thank you for these reminders! I am always trying to do something productive–I can’t sit still. I often get down and play on the floor with the kids, but when everyone seems to be playing happily, I try to escape to get something done. If I do this all day, I feel so disconnected from the kids by the end of the day. It makes me frazzled. I’ve ended up putting both kids in daycare once a week so I can get things done for myself, which means I can be more present when we are together.

    • Thank you for your comment, Tmuffin. I think a lot of moms have to have some time to themselves (some don’t, and that’s good, too) so they can come back refreshed and ablot to engage. It’s keeping that balance toward “want to” rather than “should,” you know?

  3. Pingback: Sunday Surf 11-20-11 | lovenotesmama

  4. Good timing for me! My son’s recently learned to play Scrabble and frequently wants to play my online game against other people. He can come up with 30 or 40 point moves, but then wants to start figuring out the next one, even though it isn’t our turn but we are up in a different game. He doesn’t really like to search for the best move–once he’s found one, he’s happy, even if we’re loosing by 100 points. And when he’s trying to guess (permitted without penalty in the game we play), he clearly doesn’t really understand how spelling works in English, so makes up words that I know by looking can’t work. It all drives me crazy! I tried letting him play while I hang in the background, but he really wants to be on my lap, doing it together. I’ve been trying to bite my tongue and appreciate the close-up view of his thinking and learning process, but this reminder is really good.

  5. Ack! You’ve pushed my button (in a good way of course!) I have a silly busy week and my DD just came in while I was writing and I, ashamed to say, really resented her invading my space. Then I felt guilty of course, but was glad when she went out to play because it freed me up again. now I feel super guilty.
    Thanks for writing the perfect post just at the time I needed it most ….

  6. Here we go again, Zoie! Would you believe that I am just finishing an a free audio download called “Connect with your Kids: 5 ways in under 4 minutes”? Two of your points are on my list!

    Ha ha ha. You and I should start COLLABORATING on these projects, since we seem to be doing the same things at the same times so often.

    Joy to you!

  7. I seem to use the word “brilliant” around here a lot. This list is, indeed, brilliant. I agree with and love every thing on it.
    I’ve been kind of proud of myself as a mother because of your number 6, finding the yes in the no. It occured to me early on to differentiate between whether I actually needed to say no to something or was doing it because I was tired or just not taking that moment to consider it at all.
    I hope you’re thinking about writing a book with this stuff in it.
    Again, great list. And really this is enough to make a great parent. How could you go wrong if you’re doing these things?

  8. I’m commenting the photo credit (Tearntan on flickr) because the post editor is giving me problems. It took me longer to wrestle with the layout than it did to write this. I’m afraid the editor will mess up my list again. I just can’t face it. I hope there aren’t any typos in this post because, I’m never opening the editor on it again.

I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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