Dad’s guide to connecting deeper with your child

If one thing is for sure about being a dad, it’s that change is constant. Our children are constantly growing and changing. Not to mention, life throws changes at us too, whether it’s in our work or personal lives.

So naturally, we’ll go through different seasons in our relationships with our kids, where you might be left wondering how you can build a deeper connection with them.

To help you get there, we put together a quick guide with some timeless and adaptable ways to connect deeper with your child, no matter what stage they are at.

Put the phone down – be fully present

It more important than ever to practice being fully present with our kids in our always on, digitally connected world. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever be on your phone when your child is around, but setting healthy habits around screen time and showing our kids that we see them and value our time with them matters.

This could look like:

  • Giving your child your undivided attention, even for just 10 minutes to play or catch up with them at the same time every day when they come home from daycare or school.
  • Having a no-screen rule during dinner each night to catch up and enjoy one another’s company
  • Setting aside quality time each weekend working on a hobby or activity you both enjoy
Learn about your child’s interests

Getting to know your child on a deeper level starts with showing an interest in their interests.

Your child’s interests may or may not already be obvious to you. Your child may be at the stage where you need to build knowledge or provide exposure to different things such as sports, games, books, music, and arts and crafts. Or may be your child can already talk your ear off about Minecraft or show off their magic trick skills.

Either way, taking the time to nurture or ask questions about what they’re into will help you understand more about their tastes, learning style and strengths.

Listen to them and validate their feelings

It’s one thing to ask questions, and it’s another have the patience to really listen and try to empathize with our kids. This is especially true when it comes to your child processing difficult emotions. Try to avoid indirectly invalidating their emotions by saying things like “it’s okay” or “it’s no big deal” when your child is upset.

Giving them space to cry or express themselves, listening and helping name their emotions is one of the most effective ways to connect deeply and show them that you care.

Work on strengthening trust

While our children may innately trust us, we as imperfect people all make mistakes and over time may break their trust every now and then. Maybe you missed out on a school event because of a work deadline or promised you would buy them something, then forgot to. Or may be you lost your cool and yelled at them.

Whether our mistakes are big or small, we can restore their trust by taking responsibility and openly owning our mistakes in front of our children. Then of course – taking action, whether its in our behavior or by fulfilling what we said we would do.

Giving affection and affirmation

Physical affection through hugs, kisses and hand-holding is especially vital for younger children’s growth and development. However the importance of touch in building intimacy and trust is a craving that continues on for all of us. Even for our awkward teens who might, at the very least, need a heads-up before you go in for a hug.

Another important gesture for building a deeper connection is affirming your child with empowering words when you notice their efforts or their positive qualities, especially in a specific situation or moment. This helps to build up their confidence and see themselves as capable.