Parenting Decoded

64 - How to Connect With Young Kids

March 06, 2024 Season 1 Episode 64
Parenting Decoded
64 - How to Connect With Young Kids
Show Notes Transcript

Kids of all ages need to feel connected and loved unconditionally.  How can you set up a system in your family for creating and keeping those connections?  In this podcast we go over connections for kids between 2 and 10.  The next podcast covers what you can do for teens and tweens, a much harder demographic than younger kids who still think the world of you. 

In this episode we explore ideas on how to have regular "quick" connections on a daily or weekly basis while also considering longer "dates" with our kids.  We talk about how the intention is for each parent to have one-on-one time with each kid in their family. 

There are examples of how some families have accomplished this as well as resources for ideas on what to do for "short" connections as well as times to connect in longer, more meaningful ways.

The goal is to set up connections that can go deep and will continue on into their tween and teen years. 

Hint:  Start young! 

Resources for this podcast:
30 Joyful Ways to Connect by OneTimeThrough
56 Ways to Connect With Your Kids by

Email me at or go to my website at

Have a blessed rest of your day!

 Podcast 64: How to Connect with Young Kids (ages 2-10) 

Welcome to Parenting Decoded, a podcast for practical approaches to parenting.  I’m Mary Eschen. 

In my last podcast I talked about grumpy kids, but I realized that it’s not only grumpy kids that need connections to their parents.  They ALL do!  Kids need to feel that unconditional love that we all want to give them.  We’re made to want that but, for some of us in our hurried and busy lives with work and school commitments, we just find it really hard to set aside the time to just “be” with our kids, one-on-one style.

So many times in the last 10 years of working with parents, I’ve seen how families are changed in dramatic ways when parents take the time to slow down and connect.  In this podcast I want to throw out some ideas and maybe one or two will stick with you so that you can take a step toward better connection.  This podcast focuses on young kids from about 2 years old until 10, just before they get to the tween stage of life where your sweet child might turn into someone you don’t recognize. 

Even if you’re kids are “doing ok” – they’re friends are ok, their grades are ok, their social and church activities are ok, they still need special time with YOU, just YOU.  If you want to rock parenting, connecting is going to be your superpower!
1 – Number 1, if you have young kids START YOUNG, as early as 2 years old.  It’s usually pretty easy to play games, build forts and snuggle while reading books at young ages. 

2 – Next, you have to connect INDIVIDUALLY with each of your kids, you can’t “group them” to get the connection battery recharged.

First, I’ll give you some “quick” connection ideas then ideas for longer connections that I call “dates”.


Some psychologists say that a minimum connection of 10 minutes per day per kid is the best approach to keep the connection battery charged where they feel safe, connected and loved.  It’s not enough to just take them to the playground and watch them play, you have to fully immerse yourself with them in play.  I know, it’s hard, but if your kid feels connected, things go so much more smoothly, trust me.  When one kid gets dysregulated, the entire household often moves in that same direction.  The trick is you can’t do it as a group, it needs to be one adult to one kid.  Hard for families of multiples, right?

I had one mom who had two boys, 1st and 3rd grade.  She noticed that her boys struggled to get her attention and would start getting annoyed at her and each other as they came home from school.  Since there were no loving boundaries around playing with mom both boys just wanted her all the time.  She’s a smart mom and former teacher so she decided to talk to the boys about making a schedule, a little Family Meeting.  They decided that after school each boy would get 100% of her time to play whatever they could for 15 minutes then the boys would swap places.  They talked about quiet activities to do while waiting and came up with consequences if one boy decided to interrupt.  I know, a lot of set up work but, it worked wonders!  Both boys knew they had mom and could fill up their connection battery and tell her about their day and how they were feeling while playing Legos or setting up blocks. 

I’m not saying you have to do what that one mom did, the takeaway is that she did SOMETHING.  What can YOU do in a short amount of time whether its daily or weekly?

I love the article 30 Joyful Ways to Connect with Your Child in 10 Minutes from the blog OneTimeThrough.  I’m going to put a link to it in my show notes, I love Sue’s ideas!  Here are just a few but take a peek at the article for all 30 ideas:

·      Chase Games – yep, just run around the house.  Who is “it”?  Kids laugh and squeal so easily!

·      Hide-and-seek – a perennial favorite for all kids in the 2 to 10 age range.  I know I have a hard time staying engaged in this one myself, but kids LOVE it.

·      Wrestling – as long as it doesn’t get too rough, this act of physical connection can be really nurturing and meaningful.

·      Dancing or Marching to Music –just pick a few favorite songs and dance or march around.

·      Floor Play – get on the ground and play Legos or blocks or Hot Wheels or Barbie.  Just get down on their level.

·      Cooking, baking, reading, a special snack, watching the weather go by, there are all sorts of ideas!

There’s another online resource I’ll have in my show notes from “Talking Parents” with an article with 56 MORE ideas, both short and long.  I just want you to have ideas if you feel you need them. 


Now I want to move on to setting up time for deeper connections.  If you ask me, it’s really, really helpful and builds meaningful connections in ways that the quick connections like I just talked about start but can’t quite go to the next level.  What am I talking about?

Setting up one-on-one “dates” with your kids.  Yep.  A date.  Yep, with only one kid.  If you have one kid, it’s pretty easy but you need to rotate with your spouse, no third wheels allowed on these dates.  Your spouse goes on the next date with your child, not on your date.  If you have two kids, divide them between you and then rotate the next date so each child gets time with each parent. 

If you’re blessed to have more than two, you’re going to have to divide and conquer.  I have one friend with four kids who works a lot but one Saturday afternoon a month he takes one kid out for an entire afternoon for kid directed activities, just two of them.  His kids need to wait four months for their next turn, but they are overjoyed that dad makes extra special time even if it’s only once every four months.  I must admit, I didn’t grow up with a memory of even one event with one of my parents.  My parents had a lot of kids but, boy, how I would have loved to have extra special attention from one of my parents.  How would you have felt?

What is it that you’d do with your kid on a date?  Great question.  Something fun, doesn’t have to be expensive but your kid needs to want to do it or at least tolerate it.  It should be kid-lead as much as possible.  If your kid loves to hike, then hike.  If they hate hiking, then maybe you’ll go to a place and paint pottery.  Maybe you’ll go putt-putt golfing, or to a lake and rent a rowboat.  Maybe you go on a camping trip or an interesting bike ride. Maybe it just rained, and you go someplace to make mud pies and get dirty on purpose.  Maybe you go some park or large field and collect slugs or butterflies.  Maybe you go the beach.  Maybe you get your nails painted, yep, even dads can paint their nails.  If you let your daughter pick the colors for your fingers or toes, extra credit! 

I have an adorable dad friend who dresses up and even wears a tie while his 5-year-old daughter gets on her fanciest dress to go out to dinner, just the two of them.  It could be to MacDonalds or Panera, doesn’t have to be the Ritz.  His daughter is beaming the entire time. 

Taking the time to set up dates with your kids takes time, takes energy.  I totally get it.  But I want you to think about a friend or family member who has a tween or teen who doesn’t even want to be seen with their parents, who’d rather be on electronics than have a conversation.  Maybe YOU were a teen like that!  As a parent it is a painful and frustrating time of worry and fear and at the same time you might ask yourself: “What did I do wrong?”. 

Invest now in time with them.  Make it fun.  Make it meaningful.  Make it regular even if it’s only twice a year.  You’ve just got to believe me on faith that it’ll pay off in the long run.  If you start while they’re young then the connection will grow with them as they move into becoming tweens and teens.  Super special to have a way to connect as they get to more challenging times of life!

I love Nike’s saying JUST DO IT!

That’s all for now.   

If you have a teen or tween, look for my next podcast, 65, to get specific ideas on how to connect with them.

Feel free to email me at to get suggestions for activities you could do.  If you’d like a transcript of this podcast, it’s on my website blog.  If you have a few seconds, leave me a podcast review that would be awesome.  

Have a blessed rest of your day.