My toddler and I had a hard day.
Okay it’s actually been a hard week.
Okay it’s actually been a….
Can you relate?
At our house it seems like the clashing goes in cycles. We have a tough patch and then a wonderful phase and it just repeats.
Busyness, travel, messiness, getting out of routine, having a new baby, all sorts of external forces contribute to relationship strain, even with your toddlers. Plus there are always plenty of internal factors such as impatience, hunger, unchecked anger, tiredness, and negativity to watch out for.
I’m happy to say that I think we are near the upswing!
I have a few tricks that I like to use when we need some repairs, I especially love the way #6 forces you to refocus your mind and thoughts (kind of like affirmations!)
These are all tips I use (or try to use) on the daily with my children. I need to practice them even more, especially during days like today when chaos breaks loose, but they really do work when given a sincere effort.
Are you ready to make up with your kids? Here are 6 extremely simple and effective ways…
#1. Eye contact
Eye contact is such a simple tool to connect with someone, and you might not realize how much it is needed until it is gone.
I forget to make eye contact sometimes because I am so worried about multi-tasking. The mom in me is always doing 17 things simultaneously, which means eye contact often doesn’t occur during conversations with my children. If I can stir a pot of soup and put away a dish at the same time as talking to you, I will.
But kids (and everyone) need to be seen. They need to be looked at. They need to be beheld in all their little glory.
Look at them while they whine instead of continuing to work. Look at them in the eyes when you respond. Look at them when they ask you a question. Look at them when you tell them you love them.
And look at them sometimes for no reason, too.
#2 Tell A Story
Story time is a fun way to reconnect with your distant child. I think there is something bonding about using your imaginations together.
I especially like to tell Bible stories and experiences from my own childhood, which my daughter seems to always remember! It’s not uncommon for us to go about our day and something triggers her memory, “this is just like when you were little and…”
I’m always impressed that she was listening. She connects with the idea that her mother used to be a little girl too.
#3 Sing A Song
Singing is one of the easiest ways for kids to learn and it instantly eases all tension. Every night before bed I sing hymns with my children to wind down from the busy day and prepare for calmness and rest. We also like to sing together silly songs and playful songs while dancing or smiling during the day.
Sometimes my 3 year old doesn’t know the difference between yelling and singing, it is true, but hearing her voice be happy is so healing for me.
I also notice frequently when she is playing alone in her room, if I start singing one of her favorite songs it perks her ears and her interests and she wanders down the hall to find out what I am doing.
Singing brings you together!
#4 Say a Prayer
I have prayed each day with my children since before they were born, and I teach them to pray from a very young age.
Prayer refocuses, helps you prioritize and reminds you what is important to you. It clears your mind and heart.
Hearing someone pray for you is intimate and special. Praying for someone who has wronged (or annoyed) you is sometimes all it takes to finally submit to forgiveness and let go of grudges.
Praying with my children has allowed me to approach heaven with them, I love listening to their small voices speak to God and ask for his blessing. And I think my nightly prayers comfort them too.
I am a huge believer in the importance of physical contact for young children. It’s one of the main reasons I babywear, co sleep, and breastfeed. Hugs are important for toddlers too.
Snuggling with your child is something I think really needs to be done daily if possible. Human touch helps us thrive. Snuggling brings security and safety.
Holding hands can do this too. I like to hold my kids on my lap for a minute when they wake in the morning, and then hold their hands as we walk out of the bedroom. It starts the day right, and it can end a feud right too.
#6 Tell Them 10 Things You Love About Them
This is a tool I came up with when my firstborn was entering toddlerhood. Babyhood is such a special time when I feel hardly any negative or ill feelings towards my innocent child at all, but toddlerhood starts to evolve that a little bit. I sometimes allow myself to feel irritability, although I know a 3 year old’s cognitive skills are still seriously underdeveloped. It happens to the best of us. (I hope!)
When I feel exasperated or frustrated with my child and all I can seem to think is “why!” “How!!!”, I pull them aside and say “let me tell you 10 things I love about you”. And I do.
- Your eyes
- Your laugh
- Your creativity
- Your innocence
- Your hands
- Your smile
- Your voice
- The way you line up your toys in a row
- The way you run
- Your prayers
This instantly reminds me of their goodness, their sweetness, and all the wonderful things about them that make me want to cherish—not endure—these moments together.
If you have never tried this favorite tip, do it! It will change you!
I hope you have enjoyed this list. It is a list that I need as much as anyone.
Motherhood is so life altering, it is so teaching. The relationship between parent and child is vital and good and must be nourished. Even though there are ups and downs, you can end the crazy cycle and make up with your child after you have made parenting mistakes.
Let me know how you make up with your children in the comments below!