Each day is filled with choices. If I eat this, I will get this result. If I fail to exercise, I will NOT get my desired result. We face choices in every aspect of our lives, and we live with the results of the choices we make. The story of our lives is a summation of the individual choices we make on a daily basis.
I have titled this blog “Identifying Connection Thieves” because one of my passions has become educating parents of young children on the results of “unconscious choices.” Parents make choices each day that literally rob them and their children of connection. My heart breaks when I see well-meaning parents miss a chance to let their child know that he is the most important person in the world to them. However, parents can often seize the opportunity to connect by making small, simple adjustments.
I believe there are five leading connection thieves between parents and their children, and I offer a few suggestions that might be helpful:
1. Failure to get on the child’s level and make eye contact – When you are having ANY discussion with your child, it is respectful to come to his level or bring him to your level. This means you should always get on his eye level to say, “Good bye,” when you drop him off at school. When you pick him up, take a moment to say, “Hello,” … eye to eye. Let him SEE in your eyes that you missed him.
2. The cell phone – Put your cell phone away when talking to your child. Many of our centers have a “No Cell Phone” rule. For those centers that do not, I am appalled at how many parents come to pick up their children chatting on cell phones and never break the conversation. The parent walks in, signs out his child, and walks out. How significant do you think that child feels to her parent? That phone conversation was more important than greeting his child with a hug and an eye-level conversation about her day. Texting while a child is talking is just as disrespectful. Every child deserves respect, regardless of her age.
3. What an adult has to say is always more important that what a child has to say – I routinely see a child who is excitedly talking to a parent. Then the parent is approached by another adult, and she automatically assumes that her child’s conversation must be halted to speak with the adult. There are times this is true, but the SAME rules of politeness apply. It is respectful for the parent to say, “Excuse me please,” to her child in the exact same manner that she would say it to an adult. This sends the message that her child is VERY important to her.
4. Interrupting a child before he can finish his thought – While it can be frustrating at times to give a child whatever time he needs to express a thought, it is rude to interrupt him before he is finished. I cannot count the number of times I have seen adults interrupt, ignore, or walk away just as a child is really building momentum in his story. If we are to raise polite children, we must treat them politely. If we want our children to respect others, we must respect them. Listen to your child with enthusiasm and look him in the eye as he talks. Don’t miss this chance to connect with him and to let him know how important he is in this world.
5. The computer/television — Electronics can be huge connection thieves if we allow them to play that role. Turn away from your computer and shut off or at least mute your television when your child has something to say. It is almost impossible to truly connect when there is noise all around. Go for a walk … sit quietly together. Tell your child by your actions that she is more important than a video game, a TV show, or an email. Stop, look, and listen when she walks into the room. Both of your lives will be richer when you truly focus on her.
“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that
this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.”
~ Oprah Winfrey
Be happy in this moment … this moment is your life. This moment becomes the life you build for your child. Treasure each one. Refuse to allow “connection thieves” to rob you of the special moments with your child that can be yours every day.
Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.