Children are experts at knowing deeply how we feel and specifically how we feel about them in any moment. They may not express it but they can feel it. You may notice it in their behaviour and their own stress levels.
Research shows us that in the womb, the foetus is highly sensitive to the mother. In times of maternal stress, the foetus will actually donate their own stem cells to the mother.
Why is this important?
Parents are powerful agents in the process of child development. From the moment of birth, the child enters their second gestation period. This finishes when they mature into the adult, when they have the ability to function independently.
How we feel has a direct impact on how they feel in their connection with us. Our children swim in this pool of feelings everyday. As Rumi says: “Children live in the space between.”
So we have a good long time for our children to develop well if we give them what they need. What do they need? They need to feel the connection with us deeply in a positive way, consistently, everyday. It may sound obvious and it is. But its not what we generally think about when we discipline our children and its not what we generally prioritise in our families.
If connection is important, if not vital, for our children to grow up confident, happy, self-controlled, sociable, resilient, caring and all the wonderful qualities we hope for our children, then are we speaking their language? Are we connecting with them in a way that they feel it?
Here are some ways children express their deep sense of connection with us and receive it. Think of it as their ‘language’ of connection:
being in close proximity, hugs, play fighting, splashing in the bath
giving us a special stone they found, showing us their new dance routine, drawing a picture, making something
telling us their secrets, writing a poem, singing
- spending quality time together
on holiday, walking to school, playing a game, having our undivided attention in some activity
- play in all its different forms
Do you recognise these in your children? Do you receive them? Do you give them back in the same language?
Are you talking their language?
Because if you are missing what they are ‘saying’ or ‘talking’ to them in a different ‘language’ your child may not be feeling the connection that is their gateway to development.
It’s not about being a perfect parent. There’s no formula here. It’s really about tuning into our children on this level and paying attention to details. Becoming more aware of their behaviour and their emotional needs and noticing where we say things that promotes or doesn’t promote their development in this way.
When we give and receive the language of connection with our children, they grow more deeply attached to us, so that they can detach when they are ready and still be connected when apart.
By Laura Newman MSc