I was walking in Sutton Park at the weekend, enjoying the amazing autumn colours, when I passed a dad out with his young daughter teaching her how to ride a bike. Great…but he was on his phone, engrossed in his conversation and totally oblivious to his daughter. What a missed opportunity! The message she got was ‘Right now my screen is more important than you ‘.
I often encourage parents to set aside a short time each day where they can give their full attention to their child – it sounds simple, but lots of parents comment, I thought I was playing but I wasn’t really, I was half on my phone, or my mind was on tonight’s supper or tomorrow’s meeting. The thing is, children aren’t stupid – they know when we’re not fully engaged!
Here are a few tips you could try to be more ‘in the moment’ with your child, whatever their age:
# For a short time each day turn off the TV, your radio, put your mobile in the other room and commit to give your child real, focused, positive attention for this time.
# Ask your child what they would like to do for ten minutes. Set a timer and spend some time together having fun.
# Try to make things relaxed rather than rushed.
# Try taking a step back and let your child take the lead, rather than directing the play or activity yourself.
# Watch what they are doing, wait and listen – give them time and space to speak when they want to.
# Listen attentively and reflect back what your child has said, so that they know that you’ve really been listening and what they have said is important.
# If your mind wanders – as it always will – simply bring your attention back to what is happening here and now.
‘The true gifts of life lie in the moment. That is why we call it the present’