Rebuilding Emotional Connections

The last few months whilst locked in together may have taken many of you to levels of emotional exhaustion and compassionate fatigue.

It is normal to have periods where we feel our children are testing us to the limit, but with the demands of teaching them and not being able to escape could have created emotional conflict. We may have even temporarily shut down from our emotions as a self-preservation mechanism. However, children are very perceptive to this and in truth it makes the situation far worse. The key is to positively reconnect with our children again as soon as possible.

Our children will challenge us on every dimension. They will also activate emotions more intense that you will have ever experienced before, positive and negative! The psychology of parenthood is very understated and the impact it has on us as human beings can hugely affect the effectiveness of how we perform in the role, particularly if we don’t stay reflective along the way.

When we are out of sync emotionally with our children, things change. Our patience is reduced, we filter out the positive, focus more on the negative, and tend to respond more harshly. This change activates a negative sense of self in our children which is usually acted out as a behavioural response. This can then very quickly fall into a cycle of negativity, with one event driving another and another and so on.

The only way to get things back on track is to reconnect with your child and this is essential at this stage so that children feel as emotionally stable as possible when returning to school. We need to see the positive they do and treat them with the love, warmth, and compassion that we feel on our more positive parenting days. Even if we don’t always feel it, acting it often starts the process of positive change. Remember, parenting should only ever go in one direction, from parent to child. Your child needs you to be in charge with this and take the lead. It is for you to feed your child with positive emotional nurture and not the other way around. The results are often quick and pleasing from both sides when the connection has been rekindled, which is a win-win!

We are all going to miss our lockdown family members on some level when we separate again. Even though it might have been tough at times, let’s end things on a high and send them back to school with the best emotional connections we can. It will be worth the effort, as they will need these strong bonds to help them deal with the new demands life will place on them.

Tips on rebuilding emotional connections

  • Talk. Emotional connection comes with communication. It may be difficult at first, but it’s worth it
  • Apologise. If you have been ratty, stressed or short-tempered, tell them you are sorry. It is amazing how our children can warm to you when you admit to getting things wrong too
  • Book in some quality time. Do something special together.
  • Tell them how this situation is making you feel and what you would like to make things better
  • Smile wholeheartedly and from your eyes when they come to you
  • Ask each other what you can do to move this forward and start being nicer to each other again
  • Listen to what they say. Our children will often teach us what we need to do if we are brave enough to stop
    and listen
  • Your children will be nervous about leaving you once returning to school becomes imminent. Validate their feelings and go over the top with patience, support and emotional availability