How to Be Present with Children
With all the pressures of our daily lives it can be difficult to be present with those we love. Our ‘To-Do’ list can be a mile long, thus keeping our minds in the future rather than the here-and-now. This may not seem to be an issue while we’re conducting our daily activities, but when our audience changes from the cashier at the grocery store to our children our absent mind becomes highly noticeable. Here are a few tips on creating that mindful presence our children crave so badly:
Schedule Daily Interaction Time with your children. Just as we will schedule an appointment with a doctor or a meeting with an executive in order to achieve a goal, we can schedule interactions with our children. It is just as important to have time set aside for them as it is for a health check-up or for a meeting that advances your career. Setting aside 10-15 minutes a day to have specific time focused on your children can fortify your relationship with them ten-fold. There are several avenues your scheduled time can take place:
- 10 minutes of play
- Reading a Book
- Snuggle Time Before Bed
- One Meal a Day
Listening to Your Children. This may seem rather elementary, but when our minds are juggling a multitude of thoughts we can get in the habit of giving passive responses to children without really engaging in what they are telling us. Granted, they may not be speaking on a topic that is very interesting nor one that even makes sense, however, it is interesting to them and they desire to share it with those they love. Some good methods to remain more present with your children is to maintain eye contact, repeat back things they’ve said, ask clarifying questions about their story. These tactics help the busy adult mind to stay in the moment with the children.
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Put Away Your Phone, iPad, Laptop during the scheduled interaction time and while listening to your children. These devices are essentially electronic leashes and these particular leashes pull us away from those in front of us and connect us to those far from us. It is painful for a child to feel like they have tofight for attention, especially when it is freely given to a screen. Someday the children will be the ones who are far away, but unless they feel connected in the home they most likely won’t want to connect once they leave.
This last one may seem counterproductive, but trust me it is equally as important tobeing present with your children…Maintaining Self-Care. Now this may come across as a self-focus tactic rather than one to strengthen connection between you and your children. The truth is that act of being fully present with others requires our time and energy. If our energy is being poured out and not replenished then we will only be able to give our time and not truly be able to be present. It is vital to our wellbeing to do for ourselves not just for others. When we do, we will be able to sit and read a book or listen to our children’s stories and engage with them in a mindful way.
It can take time putting these techniques into practice, but when you do you’ll notice a shift in the relationship with your children. The bonds will be strengthened and the conversations will deepen.