Using Little Moments to Bond with Kids

by: Dan Florell, Ph.D.

In the living room alone there is a huge big screen television that is connected to various streaming services that offer endless entertainment options. Connected to the television is an Xbox with several games stacked by it. In addition, there is the family iPad and one of the children’s iPods. All of these devices are built to constantly engage children and adolescents with new and exciting content.

This can make it quite intimidating for adults to try and break through all of the media and games to truly connect with the younger generation. Often adults will resort to big gestures such as expensive trips and generous gifts in an attempt to make a connection. The thinking goes that it will take something spectacular to convince the kids to pay attention to the adult in front of them rather than the constant enticements coming from their various devices.

The good news is that the big gesture is not necessary for adults to connect with children and adolescents. When they are asked about their most special family memories, most children and adolescents identify the little moments as the ones they cherish the most.

The moment could be the time that the family got rained on at a picnic and everyone ate while they were soaking wet. It also could be the time that grandpa sat down and talked about what it was like for him growing up. The point is that the activity can be one that occurs any day of the year and is not reserved to only special events.

Little moments matter to kids and teens. It is up to adults to carve out the time from their busy schedules and truly connect. This can sound fairly simple but everyone can easily get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life. There are work deadlines, activities to take the kids to, and trying to figure out what the family will be eating that night.

The trick is to have a mental reminder to take a few moments each day and be in the moment. This means to be truly present with the kids and briefly put aside all of the other responsibilities. When this occurs, more of those little moments are going to happen. Remember that little moments can happen at any time and any one of them could be that lasting cherished memory that the children carry forward in their lives.

This is a great time of the year to work on being present and building those little moments with the kids. The holidays can be a time full of stress but it is also a rare time that is set aside for families to be together. Taking a brisk family walk in the morning or making cookies for Christmas are just a couple of examples of activities that can create those little moments.

The holidays are also a good time for relatives to bond with the kids. Having the entire extended family around can provide children with a tangible view of their whole family and the traditions and stories that bond everyone together. While these experiences are infrequent they can also make lasting impressions on children.

This article was published in the Richmond Register daily Sunday on December 21, 2014

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