So some of you may be wondering just why it is that Bunnies seem so close. Their fluffles are close; their friendships are close; all of their relationships are close. And this shouldn’t be surprising as what is a Bunny if not the embodiment of pure love itself!
And this is just the point. Bunnies, like Humans, are, in fact, the embodiment of love itself. At least, this c(sh)ould be the case. Unfortunately, often the Human system does not quite meet this ideal and so we Bunnies are here to offer you a few more of our suggestions, in this case:
Suggestions for Establishing Stronger Connections with Your Children:
Bunny Bonding 101
A Bunny might start off by reminding you that both Bunny culture in general and Bunny parenting in particular are deeply rooted in the teaching and practicing of Bunny values such as Kindness, Empathy, Compassion and Understanding. We have a whole category of blog posts about the Importance of Teaching Values here on our site.
Interestingly, all of these Bunny values are based in love and are made possible by the bonds that we begin developing from the very start.
The first step in establishing any sense of connection is security. If one does not feel safe, secure and loved, no meaningful communication or connection can take place. Fortunately, young Bunnies and young Humans alike inherently crave a sense of connection. And when they trust that they have unconditional support and understanding, they feel secure.
Take a moment and think about what makes you feel secure. Do you feel safe and loved when you know that your point of view will be acknowledged and considered? Do you feel willing to open up and be honest when you know that you will be told you are wrong or otherwise be shamed?
What is most significant here is the relationships established through the small things, the daily things, so that when big things do come along, the bonds already established are strong enough and are rooted deep enough to weather a passing yet tumultuous storm.
This is not to say that daily life as a parent isn’t challenging and that raising Bunnies isn’t at times infuriating. But it is to say that one needs to be mindful of the general atmosphere of the burrow and the need to be authoritarian only when truly necessary.
Now, it is also worth pointing out that in the system modern Humans have created for themselves, it is much more difficult to maintain the connections you might be able to establish with your young as you spend more and more time and energy out of the home, racing around pursuing financial security and careers goals.
You are often separated from your children for most of the day and are often struggling to just meet their basic needs with little time left over for anything else. On top of these logistical problems, your parenting paradigm has become one in which you spend much of the time correcting, directing, nagging, and scolding your children instead of bonding with them in a positive and meaningful way.
It is a choice you made when you chose an agricultural system over the hunter gatherer system. And it is the system in which you now have found yourselves for better or worse. This choice brought along with it the beginnings of the loss of village, the societal structure Humans have depended on for millennia where families included multiple generations that help provide support, security and experience.
In tribal systems, young children spend a significant amount of their time with other children in natural environments, learning through play, in groups mixed by age where older children become teachers or role models, which in turn prepares them for parenthood. However, I digress again as Bunnies often do…
Returning to your current condition, Bunny analysis has established that each negative correction requires at least five positives. So for each nag, discipline, or scolding, a little Bunny needs five moments of praise or positive reinforcement.
This is not to be elaborate praise by the way. In fact, elaborate praise ends up being more destructive as the young Bunny may become less willing to take risks and go with the sure thing. A better approach is a moment of connection, a cuddle, eye contact with a smile, a high five and “good job”!
(Have you hugged a Bunny today?)
What Bunnies know is that young Bunnies and young children need a lot of cuddles. In fact, Bunnies and young children need even more cuddles than you might realize. You see, Bunnies need at least 4 or 5 cuddle hugs a day just to maintain life. We need somewhere around 8 to 10 good cuddle hugs a day in order to have a decent day. But Bunnies need 12 to 14 cuddle hugs a day for positive growth and development to take hold.
I already hear your panic! How in the world can all this be worked into your Modern Parent hectic days? Well, here are a couple ways to work a few more cuddle-hugs in.
A hug or snuggle first thing in the morning and just before bed is an easy way to work in the first 2. And don’t let this slip because those teenage years are coming! If you develop the habit of a hug at drop off and another at pick up, you’ve already worked the first 4 in. After that, you have to look for places to incorporate a few high fives or eye contact/smiles or hugs everywhere you can manage.
We have already discussed being sure to begin and end the day with a nice cuddle hug along with working one in at separation times like drop off and pick up, when you leave for work and come home. These should be fairly easy and natural.
Connecting at other transition times is also helpful for any little Bunny. It allows everyBunny a moment to regroup and understand that the focus is now shifting to something else. At these times you are looking for eye contact and communication, however, touches and smiles are always nice as well.
And for the early years the reminder that “Mommies/Daddies always come back” is extremely important at least until they understand the concept of preschool or whatever the situation might be. Bunnies also like to show a bit of enthusiasm and confidence during transitions with statements like “I can’t wait to hear about all you get to do when I get back.” And if we haven’t mentioned it before, the words “I Love You” are really important for both Humans and Bunnies to hear and should be worked in with other bonding practices as often as possible.
Play and Laughter
Now, you might not realize this but laughter, like gentle touch, causes the body to release hormones such as oxytocin which promotes bonding and feelings of emotional attachment. Laughter has also been shown to reduce levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine while at the same time releasing endorphins that can relieve physical pain. Not only that, laughter has been shown to strengthen the immune system by boosting the number of antibody-producing cells and enhancing the effectiveness of T-cells!
So Maximize your Moments of silliness and play! Parents often find this to be so much more natural when the child is young and absolutely adorable! Thus, indulge the impulse to both cuddle and play whenever possible. But be sure to keep it up as the little ones grow. Not only does it promote overall well being, but it also keeps you connected as they move into the more difficult adolescent years. And because it is the hormones released as a result of a good laugh, they won’t even realize that your are using it to promote your connection!
Now ideally, as they grow, laughter and play can provide a reminder for both yourself and your little one that you do, in fact, delight in the joy of their presence. They will obviously be less inclined to share laughter with you in public at certain ages. But we Bunnies do believe that one should keep in mind that most of us are far more open to a jester than to a dictator!
A No Phone Zone
Now a Bunny must say that there is nothing more annoying than to be talking to a Human and all the sudden they pull a phone out of nowhere and start talking to someBunny else! What is up with these things. They are everywhere and everyBunny has got one stuck to themselves. So take a Bunny’s advise and turn off the phone or computer or what ever devise you are on when you are trying to connect with someBunny!
Bunnies even suggest that you turn down the radio in the car or turn off the TV. This not only lets your little one know that you are present and interested enough in them to eliminate all these other things that consume so much of your attention. And possibly most importantly of all, it eliminates the inevitable interruption where you will have to choose between a critical phone call or witnessing a home run and your child.
Talking and Listening
Make time to talk, listen and connect, ideally at least 15 minutes per child, each and every day. Going for walks is great way to make time for this as you both get a bit of exercise. This type of activity can also help as they are getting older as the movement takes them out of the direct spotlight. Other ideas include boardgames or having them help you prepare a meal. Bunnies enjoy picnics as most of us are usually up for sharing carrots outdoors.
But you can also just turn off the car radio and talk with them as you drive to and from practices or school. We know you are busy so why not make the best use of your time. Besides, your phones should be off while you are driving anyway! Just remember to insert silliness especially if you find a need to establish a nonthreatening opening.
During these times, you should obviously be practicing good listening skills. Keep quite and let them talk. Ask clarifying questions and try to see whatever it is from your little one’s point of view, looking for the reason behind the behavior. And then, empathize by connecting rather than comparing!
It is also a good idea to schedule a few extra minutes at bedtime from the beginning and continue this as they grow. You will most likely find that this is one of the times that the worries of the day come out. It’s not time to solve the problem. But it is the time to listen and acknowledge their struggles.
If a concern does come out, be sure and try to remember to follow up about whatever it was the next day. This lets the little Bunny know how important they are to you and will pay off in spades later. And while we are on the subject, a back scratch at bedtime is also a great way to release some oxytocin, the bonding hormone that will help solidify your connection.
We know it can be hard, but it is critical that your little Bunny feel able to express whatever is going on with them. As they mature, so many things are going to be happening both internally and externally, much of which they are not going to fully understand. And so, as much as it may trigger things within yourself, a grown up Human, like a grown up Bunny, must reach deep down inside and summon your own courage.
Listen to what your Bunny has to say. Acknowledge and accept the feelings. And try as hard as possible not to negate them. Negating their view point is not connecting and may lead to an immediate shutdown. Your listening not only allows you to connect but it also helps them heal or process whatever the hurt they may be going through. Much can be resolved through the act of expressing alone.
Helpful questions are the questions that clarify and promote empathy. Things like “How did that make you feel?” And “What could you have done differently?” Most often, your little Bunnies don’t need you to fix their problems. They just need you to acknowledge them and absorb some of the distress. And if you are in the habit of daily sharing, hopefully you have enough positive experiences already built in between you that you can navigate the more difficult ones with a little more ease.
Just Be There
By making sure you have these moments of connection with your little Bunny as often as you can, you are building the memories of a lifetime. Neither you or your child want to look back over the years and only hear you saying “not right now” or “just give me another minute” or just plain being too busy to make time to be with them. One has to consider what is truly important. So be sure that you don’t let a ball game, or work or anything else be so pressing that you miss your child’s life.
And please remember, as we have said it many times before, you don’t have to do any of this perfectly, but you do have to try. We know it can be overwhelming. But if each generation can manage to do just a slightly better job than the previous generation, that is progress. And this is how evolution works. It is a slow but steady movement towards a better, more fully loving state.
Bunny Scout 9743 has a degree in Bunny Psychology with a specialty in Hoppiness. He has worked as a fluffed therapist for a number of years. He blogs for Bunnies Today and is a Scout for Sylvia and Jacob in Arkansas.