Are you familiar with Dan TDM?
I know all about his Pugs and his wife, Jemma. I recognize his British accent on the TV almost instantly. And I have opinions about his various hair color experiments. (Just so you know, I am a much bigger fan of the purple-ish hair color over the green.)
Why on earth does an almost 40-year-old mother of four know all of this information about a 20-something-year-old Minecraft Youtuber?
Because of my kids.
Three of them love Dan TDM. They regularly stream his YouTube channel on our television so that I hear his voice most mornings when I enter the kitchen. My boys love to discuss Dan’s latest adventures with me. I listen, ask questions, and do my best to engage them in conversation.
(I should confess that I cheat a little though. I follow Dan TDM on Instagram. Then I can share little-known facts with them because my boys don’t have Instagram yet.)
But why? Why all of this effort to talk about Dan TDM?
It’s simple really. It’s about connection.
Connect with your Kids: The Basics
During our day, we connect with our kids in all sorts of ways.
As a homeschooling mom, I spend the majority of my day doing schoolwork, reading books, cooking meals, playing games, and living life side by side with my kids. Connections are being built all of the time.
But a different kind of connection happens when I engage my child’s interests and join them in their world.
This means that I worked hard at things like memorizing the nine evolutions of Evie in Pokemon. All nine. And it wasn’t easy. I mean, who came up with these names?
I pay attention to the world of gymnastics and learn all sorts of related vocabulary terms such as kips and giants. I follow the Final Five on Instagram and am currently watching Laurie Hernandez on Dancing with the Stars.
In the past, I have played Minecraft, watched Dan TDM play Minecraft story mode, taken notes during a Redstone engineering class, and played Pixel Painters on a Minecraft server. I can’t say that I really enjoyed any of these activities, but what I did enjoy was engaging with my kids on their terms. In their worlds. Focused on their interests.
We all like people to show interest in the things we are enjoying.
I know that it’s true for me. In fact, one of my close friends who avoids social media and online interaction makes a point of reading my blog on a regular basis. And it means so much to me because she is taking the time to connect with me over something I enjoy – blogging – even though we connect over homeschooling, mothering, and life in a million other ways. This one act is about her taking the time to peek into my world.
And I can do the same for my kids. And you can do the same for yours.
Connect with your Kids: Practical Tips
Maybe it means that you read a book your child loves. (Right now, El Deafo is on my reading list because my daughter has declared it her “favorite book ever” and “wishes there was someone to talk about it with”.) I have witnessed that it means a lot to my child when I spend my free time reading one of their favorite books!
You can follow some of their favorites on social media. In addition to Dan TDM and the Olympic gymnasts, I follow the actors that portray, “The Flash” and “The Arrow” on Instagram. This is a very simple way to occasionally engage them in conversation about a show or star they love.
Play their favorite game and try your best to learn it and maybe even enjoy it. Minecraft. Nintendo Wii U. Play Station. Whatever game it is, give it a half hour or so of your time. Even if you are terrible at it, they’ll remember your effort.
Put a song they enjoy on your playlist and occasionally turn it up! Learn some of the lyrics and sing along. Laugh. Enjoy. Dance.
Make their interests a topic of conversation in your home. The topics may not interest you, but their interests are fascinating to them. Ask good questions and pay attention while they talk. Most kids are quite content to share with a listening ear.
It comes easier for some folks, who, like myself, share similar interests with the majority of the teenage world when it comes to books and music. Other times, even I have to work at it. But it is worth it and we all have the ability to make it happen.
These are only a few of the many ways you can connect with your child on their terms. What do you try to build a connection in their world?