3 Ways to Connect With Our Children

Special needs mom, Clinical and School Psychologist
02/10/20  11:09 AM PST

Connecting With Our Children

If you are a parent of a child or children with special needs, I know how tired you are at the end of each day. If you are also working, part-time or full-time, for yourself or for someone else, finding time to connect with your kids each day is tough. Our children need to and want to connect with us as we want to connect with them.

I remember having visions of parenthood while my firstborn was a baby. I imagined these peaceful evenings of us cuddling and playing together. I never imagined the rush-rush that I now live with 3 children and a full-time private practice. I run in through the door, pick up, drop off, make dinner, prepare lunches, take out the garbage. By 8 p.m. I feel like I’ve run a marathon…and I still haven’t made 10,000 steps!

I can see what happens when I don’t connect with my kids. They become angry with me, they use that tone and we go downhill from there. I have to remember that they are frustrated that I am not reading their cues and my body language is one of tension, a rushed nature, and a whole bunch of disorganized energy. There are days that I don’t want to be near me! For my child with special needs, on my days of feeling disorganized, I trigger her and we have more meltdowns than usual. But, when I self-calm and organize my thoughts and my actions, we have a better flow.

Good Morning & Good Night

Although simple, saying good morning and good night to our children sets the intention for the day of “Hello! I am happy to see you!” and “Good night. The day is over and a new one awaits us.” Our children need that acknowledgement, that connection at the beginning and end of the day. It makes them feel important and loved.

A Simple Activity

When we spend much of our time and energy “doing” for our family, we become disengaged from our children and more engaged with the stuff that fills our daily life. I know that sometimes I forget the who I am doing for and focus on the what which can result in feelings of overwhelm. I know I need to remember that a clean sink is far less important than having even 5 minutes of a simple activity with my child. It may mean watching a 30 minute show together, working on a puzzle, singing a song, dancing or reading together.

The activity doesn’t have to be extravagant, require a long time, or cost any money at all. In fact, the more simple, the better. Allow time to just be together rather than creating something or accomplishing anything.

Put the Electronics Away

Although our kids seem addicted to their electronics, truth of the of the matter is that we are too. How many times have you picked up your phone just for the sake of picking up your phone out of habit? I know I do it often. I don’t like it at all. We are not meant to be connected to our phones or any other device as it is overstimulating which makes it more difficult for us to self-calm and self-regulate. Disconnect and allow your body to wind down from the day, either through an independent activity or through a simple activity with your child.

Daily connection is what we all strive for as human beings. Using these simple methods and incorporating them as many times per week as you can, you will see more of a flow within yourself and your home which will promote even more connection and flow!

Dr. Liz Matheis


Dr. Liz Matheis is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and certified School Psychologist who specializes in working with children with ADHD, Anxiety, Autism, Learning Disabilities, and behavioral struggles. She is also mom to three children, one with special needs. Her practice, Psychological and Education Consulting, is located in Livingston, New Jersey.


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