Some advice or ideas about parenting are overly complicated, or sound great in theory but we can’t figure out how to transform the words that inspire us into our daily interactions with our child.
It is easy to think that any and all time spent with our children counts as together time. We are physically with them after all. However, we can be in the same space as our children and not actually be with them. Our mind could be wandering miles away, our backs turned, or be totally engaged in our own activity and totally unaware of theirs. This is reality of course, and fine, and understandable, but we have to see this time for what it is. And not mistake it for real together time, the ‘tank filling’ sort.
The relationship we have with our child depends on the connection we have. Consciously choosing more times of connection means we make this a priority in our lives. We may need to put guidelines in place for ourselves – turning off cellphones at specific times, changing the time of day we prep dinner, making important phone calls only after some invested presence.
How often do you hear children being asked to use their words? It can be a problematic request as high emotions and limited vocab make this a real challenge for children. Perhaps we are better to look at taking our own advice, and look at how using our words could help us in our parenting journey.
“Use your words”. How often do we hear that being told to children? Very young children especially? It has become almost a mindless phrase that gets thrown out, with the expectation that our wee ones know what it means, can grasp what is asked of them, and run with it.
As teachers we are often asked by our wonderful parents what they can do to help their children develop and learn, or 'prepare for school'. Our advice? The very best thing you can do for your children is offer them love and offer them life.
Our children love to hear “yes”, and the truth is it can be just as enjoyable for us to say it. There are so many times in a day we say no (whether aloud or not), but if we paused before responding, maybe we'd say yes more often.
Much of the parenting advice around is specific ‘how to’s’ - three step behaviour methods, a ‘script’ for certain situations, stickers, time out stools and other gimmicks. This puts us in the realm of doing parenting.
Our children have their own timetable for development. If we trust their inbuilt timing, we can resist the urge to ‘teach’, intervene, coax and prompt. We can instead put our energies into observing, noticing, appreciating and celebrating. Our focus moves to looking at what our child CAN do instead of what they can’t (yet).
Our children want to share with us. They want to invite us into their world, to have us hop aboard the train of their latest interest. Many of their passions will be things we ourselves have no interest in.