Outside of your regular mindful practice, it is important to remember the magic ratio: 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction. This is the ratio that you need to keep your relationship healthy and happy; to continue to feel connected. This goes for your partner, your mother, your friends, and your children. You have to deposit a lot of good emotions in the relationship bank before you can start withdrawing.
One of the best way to keep this ratio here or higher is to create habits and rituals. Rituals create a sense of “us-ness” and, along with routines, create strong bonds and foster wellness in families. While mindfulness is great, we aren’t always capable of practicing it. When we’re tired, frustrated, or anxiety ridden, we want a positive default.
If you create one or two small habits or rituals to have each day, then your autopilot will become one of attunment and connection. This makes it easier to keep that magic ratio.
Here are a few things that you can try:
(1) Good morning hug: As soon as you see your child in the morning, when he or she is ready to engage, give them a big hug. Even if you fought the night before, especially if you fought the night before, start the day off right. Not only do hugs feel connecting, they have other benefits.
(2) Lunch time dance: Put on the radio and dance to a good song before you eat. Dance has a ton of benefits. One study found that it melts the wall you put up between yourself and other, leading to feelings of deep connection.
(3) Story time: We all know that reading to children increases literacy, but it does more, like supporting cognitive development, increasing focus, and even including increasing empathy . It is a time your child loves. Pick a time or event that means it is time to read. It can be 11am, or right before nap time.
(4) Play with your food: Start involving your child in preparing one meal. This builds your children’s confidence, helps them contribute to the family, and is one piece of developing a healthy relationship with food. If you can remain mindful while letting them cut tomatoes with this nifty safety knife, or just getting the carrots out of the fridge and putting them on a plate, they will enjoy the experience.
(5) Yoga: Using our bodies is important for adults and children. Structured activities for you can be semi-structured for your children. They love being included in “adult” activities. Yoga is endlessly good for the mind and body, and it is something you can do shoulder-to-shoulder!!, which is particularly important for boys.
(6) Make music: Simple music toys delight children. Creating music together, for just a few minutes, will be a bonding experience. There is no right or wrong here. Children thrive with open-ended play.
Try to dedicate yourself to doing at least two of these a day. Tell us what you do to make sure that you and your children have positive interactions every day.