Using little moments to help make a big difference
We explore why connecting in the little everyday moments can help your child feel safe and secure, and how this can help them to grow into well-adjusted adults.
The emotional and mental wellbeing of our children is never far from a parent’s mind. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by Bupa, it was one of the main concerns parents held; they just want their children to feel safe, secure and part of a family unit, and of course, support them as they grow into well-adjusted adults.
However, it can be hard to know how best to do this. How do you build that connection, and find time for those meaningful conversations that can lead to stronger emotional wellbeing?
The research suggests it might be easier than you think.
It’s not necessarily the big, grand gestures that mean the most when we’re trying to build connection. Instead, it’s often the little everyday moments
that families share, sometimes without even noticing, which can help make a real difference to the mental wellbeing of children.
Why little moments are important
We recently conducted research on Conversations with Children, and found that around 46 percent of parents surveyed worry that they don’t spend enough time with their kids. Maybe not surprisingly, this was especially true for parents with primary school aged kids, where the busyness of life can take over.
A further one in three parents felt that they don’t have enough time to consider their kids’ questions to answer them properly, or are asked questions that they don’t have the answers to.
However, families who enjoy regular little moments to connect appear to have greater trust and two-way communication
, and in the bigger picture, they can often deal with family issues and wider problems more easily.
Rather than trying to find the time to squeeze in long stretches of time, big overseas holidays or extravagant activities, that don’t necessarily add to the emotional wellbeing of your child, try to focus on making the most of the little moments.
Finding those little moments
So, if the little moments are important, how do you go about having them? Try not to overthink it. Chances are, you’re already sharing these moments together and you may not even realise it.
Think about the time you spend washing the dishes together, brushing your teeth, getting to and from school, packing lunch boxes, walking the dog, reading a bedtime story, or folding the clothes. All of these little daily moments can be great opportunities to chat and connect, and ultimately for you to strengthen those bonds with your child.
Research also suggests that family meals (and it doesn’t have to be dinner – if lunch or breakfast work better for your family, try those) contribute to better mental and physical health for kids.
The average duration of a family meal is typically only about 18 minutes, so it really is a little moment. But the casual nature, as well as the verbal, social and emotional communication helps to build those important bonds.
Making little moments matter
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One of the biggest barriers parents mentioned to achieving a meaningful connection, even in the little moments, was not knowing where to start.
Psychologist Dr Gordon Neufeld believes the key to making the most of every moment is being present and showing your kids that you’re listening and enjoying their company.
- Making little gestures to show kids you’re on their wave lengths: for younger kids, it might be a high-five or a funny face
- Creating your own special rituals that you might use at the dinner table, or at bedtime, such as sharing things you’re grateful for or your favourite moment of the day
- Small inside jokes that you can laugh together over
- Leaving a funny note in their lunch box or writing one on the bathroom mirror
- Being spontaneous: join in on their drawing or colouring, stop and sit with them while they watch TV or play games.
However you choose to do it, next time you’re stuck in traffic on the way to after school activities, or rushing through the bedtime routine, take a moment to enjoy their company, and know that spending this time engaged with your child can benefit both of you.
Those little moments really do matter.