Although my kids are 11 and 9 year old, I am still discovering the best ways to bond with them. Living in nuclear family and with virtually no exposure to young children, both Manisha and I have learnt mostly through experience. I think that the good part is that we have been open to learning from our own experience and to any advice that has come our way though well-wishers. Following ways to bond with children are ever-green, in my view:
- Reading out to kids. Young parents may not realize this but a child doesn’t like anything more than being read out a story. We were a bit late to start doing this regularly specially due to the physical strain of raising kids along-with other responsibilities. But now we make it point, however tired we maybe. One of us read out a mid-size story book, few pages every night. The advantage of reading a kids’ novel is that it gives a sense of continuity, very much like watching a soap opera. Couple of suggestions – Number the Stars by Lois Lowry and The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.
- Playing with kids. Make it a point to play with them. Whatever game it may be, like carom, ludo, cricket, football, baseball, table tennis, tennis, badminton and so on. Depending on the age and liking of the child, just do it. It may involve a bit of inertia if you are not an active person. Maybe this will be good for your own health too.
- Spend time in a swimming pool. As a family, its so nice to bond in water. Introduce your toddler to water gently as early as possible. Slowly, the child will be a pro in the pool. Splashing water on each other, carrying the child on your shoulder or back and moving in water are activities that kids just love. Just chilling in the pool is good fun for the whole family.
- Give a good massage. Massaging the infant is generally outsourced to maids or is done by ladies in India. But giving a nice massage (with a bit of oil or dry) to grown up kids is another lovable activity. Specially massaging the feet, back, shoulders and arms can be very soothing to a child after the whole day’s physical activities. Needless to say, given the kind of physical activities kids undertake, they deserve a massage more than us adults. The child gets the right ‘strokes’ (in Transactional Analysis sense as well) and the physical bonding with parents grows.
- Allow Kids in your bed sometimes. Allow your children to sleep in your bed once in a while. Even if they are grown, you can allow them to sleep next to you sometimes as a special treat. Till at least pre-teens, kids crave to sleep in their parents’ bed an there’s no harm in allowing this.
The common thread in all these activities is your full presence with the kids. It means you are with them in your mind and body. Such bonding cannot be developed over the easier activities like watching TV, playing smartphone or ipad games and reading your own thing while sitting with them. Other common activities like eating meals together and watching a nice movie as a family also add to the bonding.
Children’s self-worth increases with these activities as you are valuing them more by giving them your undivided time and attention.
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A seeker and explorer in the quest for lasting happiness, health and well-being. An MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur and a Mechanical Engineer from IIT Delhi. Has been a senior banker with large global banks like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and ANZ Bank. Working in these demanding global institutions with a gruelling schedule and plenty of business travel. Was fortunate to realise the importance of health and wellbeing early on. Learnt and practiced many wellbeing tools and techniques to focus on his own well-being while balancing the demands of a high-profile career and a lovely family.