6 Bonding Tips for Busy Parents

Lara, owner of Nurture and Nanny, has been a professional nanny for more than 15 years. As she’s spent time in a variety of different households she discovered that most kids want the same thing – love and attention.

“Everything I’ve learned about children, I’ve learned through experience,” Lara said.

Because she understands parents are often busy and that life’s distractions can interfere with the connection they feel with their children, she wants to share some of her time-tested tricks for building bonds.

1. To learn more about your kids, just observe them!

If you take a step back, you can figure out what type of kid you have and what he or she is into. For example, if they don’t respond well when being told exactly what to do, you’ll know that making chores and activities into games will work better.

2. Be fair about setting boundaries.

Setting boundaries is mainly about communication. And it’s also about knowing that you’re the grownup, and realizing that saying ‘no’ time and time again won’t be effective. Depending on the age of the child, you need to explain why you’re setting particular boundaries. They’ll be less likely to test you if you’ve explained why you said no.

3. Give timeouts a purpose.

Lara is a fan of timeouts-as long as they’re given for the right reasons. A timeout shouldn’t be given when mommy needs to make an important phone call, she says. The timeout is the time when the child needs to reflect on what he or she has done.

For older kids, a great tool to have in the timeout area is paper and writing utensils. That way, kids can communicate about why they’re in a timeout and what they can do to not be put there again.

4. Give rewards-the free kind!

The best types of rewards are things that don’t cost any money. Praise is a fantastic reward. So are stickers.

What you want to do, Lara explains, is make sure the kids understand the point of the action, the reason why they’re getting the reward, and small rewards are the best way to do that. If you promise them something big, like a video game, chances are they’re going to focus on that and forget what it was that got them there.

5. Spend mealtime together.

Mealtime is great for building bonds and communicating with your kids. Even if you might have dinner after your children go to sleep, try to share a small meal with them anyway. It’s also a good opportunity to teach them habits and responsibilities, like how to use their silverware or napkin, and where to put their plate when the meal is over.

6. Be present.

Lara encourages parents to turn the radio off in the car on the way to school in the morning so you can talk to them about their upcoming day and what they are excited about. When they get home and before soccer practice or naptime, Lara says you should sit down with your kids and ask them how their day went.

    “It takes five minutes to check in with your kids,” Lara said. “It will make them feel validated and make the whole rest of the afternoon run smoothly.”

    To see more of Lara’s nanny philosophy, take a look at her agency, Nurture and Nanny.

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