My cell phone used to take up my attention, a lot of my attention, ok, all my attention. It was such a smart phone…I mean I could be in an actual conversation with my daughter and still check email and answer a few texts. I could supervise my little one’s homework and still read the latest pediatrics research article online. I could be on call with another physician at the hospital while admiring my daughter’s art work from school or sympathizing over her scrape from the playground. Multitasking is supposed to be a sign of the supermom. Not any more. Not for me. I started to ask myself what kind of example am I setting for my daughters. I certainly don’t want them thinking that you have to be on some sort of screen to feel connected. This recent article gives us 10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12…I am thinking how about for those of us over the age of 12 too ? http://m.huffpost.com/us/
Children get used to us giving them part of our attention but they never feel good about it. And it does not mean that it is ok just because children tolerate it. Being present, parenting from a place of constant awareness is a challenge in this time of stimulation, motion and instant gratification. But at the end of the day, the only thing a child remembers is how much attention they received, who made eye contact with them and listened to their story, whose face lit up when they entered a room. This book “Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting” remains one of the few books on parenting that embraces the emotional, intuitive, and deeply personal experience of being a parent, applying the groundbreaking “mind/body connection” expertise from global thought-leader, Jon Kabat-Zinn and his wife, Myla Kabat-Zinn. It changed the way I parent.
And then when they do have my full attention, I realize that they each communicate with me differently too…they have different love languages…I learned that from this wonderful book “The 5 love languages of Children” by Gary Chapman and Ross Campell…it helps build a foundation of unconditional love, shows you the connection between knowing your child’s love language and helping them learn successfully. Is my child’s love language physical touch or words of affirmation ? One child may feel loved just from a hug, another child may need to hear you say the words “I love you”.
As someone wise said and I am paraphrasing here..” Listen to your child when they are telling you the little things..then they will tell you the big things when they grow up…because when they were little, for them the little things were the big things.” In the beginning it was hard to ignore my smart phone, it had become so much a part of me. But now, it is left in another room or turned off. When a child is talking to me, they get my attention. Completely. Eye contact, open ears, open heart. My daughters were surprised the first few times this happened. Now they know that they deserve my full attention and so they ask for it when they feel me drifting away. “Mommy, I want your attention”. There is no room for multitasking when you are giving your child attention. No room at all.