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4 Signs that You and Your Kids are in Sync

Notice these signs that you're in tune with your children's needs.

Key points

  • Being in sync with kids sets the foundation for a lifelong bond.
  • When you're in sync with kids, you check in for quieter signs of what they need and want.
  • There are many small opportunities every day to become more in sync with your kids.

If you’re in sync with your kids, you’re connected in ways that keep your relationship strong, even through the hard times. This is strongly linked to children's later physical and mental health--and makes your time together more engaged. Here’s a checklist of signs:

Pexels, Yan Krukov
Becoming in sync with your child is a daily practice
Source: Pexels, Yan Krukov

1. You sense when your child isn’t up for conversation.

Maybe it’s at the end of the day, when your kids are home from school, or early in the morning, or before an important game. You can tell when your child’s mind is elsewhere, and you don’t push.

Keeping in touch with your child’s need for quiet and alone time is just as important as knowing when to talk.

Why does this matter? When you’re responsive to your child’s quieter moods, you’re telling them that you respect their independence and their need to process things on their own time. Later, when they’re ready to talk, they’re more likely to come to you.

2. You make a point of responding differently to each child.

One of my friends described to me how she had a pet name one of her kids liked her to use. One day, she playfully used it with the other child—and both kids got upset! In fact, the pet name was like a secret code with each child, helping them feel they were known and loved specifically for themselves.

Pexels, Ron Lach
Having a bit of one-on-one time with each child builds your bond.
Source: Pexels, Ron Lach

This goes far beyond pet names. When you make a point to joke or talk differently with each child—or even have different rules and boundaries, for example about screentime—you’re recognizing that each child has different wants and needs. This isn’t about being “unfair.” Instead, it has to do with being sensitive to the needs and wants of each individual.

3. What makes your child laugh—even when they’re down?

All of us know how to make a child laugh when things are going well. Or if we’re at a water park or Disneyland, it can feel simple to find things to laugh about. But when you’re in sync, you can help a child find joy in the hard times, when they’re stressed or feeling unsure of themselves. You even sense when they’re in the mood to take a bit of distance from their problems and laugh at themselves.

Why is this important? There’s a difference from feeling like you have to keep your kids happy and encouraging them to look for the light. Especially as kids get older, their abilities to regulate their emotions through the ways they talk to themselves will be key.

4. Does your child want advice or just a listening ear?

Kids are like all of us. Sometimes they want you to help them out with a problem, and sometimes they only want you to sit back and hear what’s on their minds. And no child wants the same thing all the time.

Active listening is as much a part of conversation as talking is. And active listening actually changes the people who are being listened to. As Carl R. Rogers and Richard E. Farson note, “When people are listened to sensitively, they tend to listen to themselves with more care and to make clear exactly what they are feeling and thinking.[1]” This is even for true for kids. Having their thoughts and ideas validated can let them feel, “My ideas are worth exploring” and “people are interested in what I think.”

Sometimes a child will tell you what they’re looking for. As my daughter once said, “Mom, you don’t have to fix things!” But other times, the messages may be quieter. For example, a child may turn away when you ask another question, or keep telling you, “I don’t know.”

Pexels, Artem Podrez
Often, simply active listening is enough.
Source: Pexels, Artem Podrez

When you’re in sync with your child, you can check in for these signs and respond based on what you hear and see. Doing so is the foundation for a connected relationship, starting from the earliest years. With this foundation, you and your child will likely have an easier time relating, even as your child grows. And the good news—if you don’t feel in sync with your child, there are strategies that can help, in simple ways, one conversation at a time.

[1] “Active Listening,” by Carl R. Rogers and Richard E. Farson.

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