What do High 5s, Playing Chase, and Magic Tricks have in Common?

They give away power, in a good way.

If I've learned anything during this pandemic, it's that feeling powerless in the face of something much bigger than me that controls my life...is...terrifying. Do my children feel that way when they face me? I'm bigger than them. I control their lives. But they don't fear me. They trust me to give them power and control whenever I can.


They know that my goal is their physical safety and emotional connection...except when I act like it's not.


Like yesterday, when I ignored my son's wailing tears over a sibling-induced injury because I had a self-induced work deadline {face palm}. My parenting actions aren't always aligned with my parenting goals. But when they are, I try to hand over as much power and control as they can handle, and when I do, they feel valued, respected, and connected to me.


Here are a few simple ideas that give kids a sense of power and connection in an instant, especially when they're feeling low, acting out, or need help snapping out of a funk.


Help them win at something: Chase them around the room, but don't catch them. Play a quick game (cards, chess, hot hands) and lose on purpose. Ask them a question they know the answer to and then feign surprise at their genius. Be silly, not serious but more importantly, be connected to their joy.


Help them know something others don't: Teach your child the secret behind a simple card trick - then watch them strut their stuff. Tell your child the best hide-and-seek spot in the house. Think of a silly, funny secret only you two know and plan to wink at each other when you think of it.


Help them feel on top of the world: When my son gives me a high five, I make sure to dramatically fall over backward as if his super strength was too much for me to handle. What follows? Giggles, pride, and connection for both of us. Letting them be "king (or queen) of the hill" can boost confidence and turn the mood around.


Kids get a super-boost when we incorporate play, attention, and feelings of power into little moments throughout the day. For younger kids, it doesn't take much. Older kids will make you work for it but don't be fooled. My teenager still loves to annihilate me in chess, wrestle my husband to the ground, and wow us with his fancy computer tricks.