Okay, so it’s not just a half hour. But it’s a half hour at a time. That’s doable, right?

Read on for a quick tip.So much of our time with our kids is spent trying to get them to do things. Or to stop doing things. Or to speed it up and get it done faster, or to slow it down and get it done well. Or to turn play into a teachable moment. Or to get them to go play by themselves so you can get other things done.

But what grows an emotional bond is focused attention and acceptance. You just sit and you take whatever your kids offer, with love and curiosity.

So what I’d suggest is that if your kids are young, you  get down on the floor and play with them. Let them choose the game, and whatever they do, just follow along. Express curiosity and interest, like, “Oh, I see you’re doing x or y.” You can ask questions about why, but with no judgment. Let them feel like the most fascinating beings in the world. Be engaged, and you’ll learn more about how they think and feel, which is incredibly fascinating. It’s also incredibly bonding.

With older kids, it’s a similar idea. Find out what they want to do for a half hour. Even busy tweens and teens can spare a half hour, right? Have them show you something, or teach you. The principle is the same as above: Let them feel fascinating, and they’ll become fascinating. Get to know them better, instead of trying to mold them.

When you try to do this, you’ll notice how often you’re tempted to take the lead, how often you try to move things in a certain direction, how hard it is to simply be mindfully present and share the experience that your child is offering. That in itself is a good lesson.

As parents, we try to do a lot, and sometimes we forget to stop. We forget that simple presence, curiosity and interest go a long way in building a relationship. So it’s time to remember, a half hour at a time.

moms and kids photo