Give your toddler hugs whenever possible.

How to Strengthen the Bonds Between a Mother and a Toddler

by Jaimie Zinski

Many mothers automatically assume that bonding with her toddler is a magical, biological event that just occurs. Your crazy, energetic toddler is well-fed, loved and growing like a weed, but you’re still finding it difficult to create that amazing mother-child connection. You’re not alone in feeling deflated by the lack of connection with your toddler, but rediscovering and strengthening that bond is possible, all you need to do is have a little fun and make the most of your one-on-one time.

1 Rearrange your hectic schedule to make time for your toddler. This could mean anything from leaving work 30 minutes early once a week to giving up your book club meetings. Whatever you have to do, make it a point to set aside at least one hour each day to spend some quality, one-on-one time with your toddler. Sometimes, (or more than sometimes) it isn't easy. If you have to divide the hour into four segments, that's certainly better than not giving your toddler the special time from you she craves.

2 Play an interactive game with your toddler. Make up a silly song together, play an age-appropriate board game or toss the ball around outside. Whatever the case, make sure the two of you are interacting, talking and the toddler is being responsive. Have a silly conversation with your toddler about his favorite movie or ask him about a recent trip to Grandma’s house.

3 Volunteer at your toddler’s daycare, if you’re a busy working mother who is not able to stay home with your toddler. Read a book to the class, finger paint with your toddler or participate in any activity occurring in the room. Your toddler will revel in your attention, and she'll glow when she’s able to brag about the adventure to her siblings or to dad.

4 Show your toddler plenty of affection. Go out of your way to give him a hug and kiss for no good reason at all. If he looks puzzled or questions what the hug was for, simply tell him, “I hugged you because I’m your mother and I love you.” North Dakota State University also cautions moms against overstimulating your toddler. If he begins to squirm away from you during a hug or simply tells you to stop, give him some quiet time alone and walk away. He might simply want a quieter time with you, at this particular moment.

5 Pay attention to your child’s verbal and non-verbal cues, and respond appropriately. North Dakota State University reminds mothers to be attentive to your toddler’s needs, and respond in a compassionate, kind way. For instance, learn that when your toddler whines in the mid-afternoon, it probably means she needs a snack. It might take a while for you to tune into your toddler’s social and physical needs, but you’ll catch on quickly. You're her mom!

6 Read a book with your toddler every night before bed. Nothing is more memorable and special than a mother and her toddler snuggling up together with a book. Turn one of your child’s favorite stories into your special book by making it a point to read it every night. Smile at her when she says, "Kitty! or Doggie!." She'll remember these reading sessions for years.

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