How many times do we hear that kids are rude and disconnected- that they are rarely off their phones and always distracted? Do you ever wonder where they learn this behavior? How many times have you mindlessly mumbled ‘uh-huh”, “yeah”, and “umm” while your child is trying to tell you something about her day? We are our children’s role models, and we need to pay attention to what examples we are giving them.
Today’s world is filled with distractions, at a time when are bombarded with more and more expectations. Many parents have had to evolve, to being not only Mom or Dad, but Teacher as well, in addition to the task of keeping everyone safe and healthy. It is easy to miss when our kids are nervous or struggling with something that’s not on our radar when we’re looking for things that we THINK we should be watching out for. The fact that we are always connected (or most of us, anyway) via laptop, tablet, or cell phone means we can easily miss meaningful connections with our kids. With so many distractions, we need to pay attention to the signal that the most important- the ones from our children. They want to share and be heard, and we need to show that that we will be present and actively listening to them.
I asked Dierdre Breakenridge Skrobola and Mark Skrobola for some advice. Their book, A Whisper from Noelle i s a children’s book that talks about the importance of leaving distractions behind and having meaningful conversations and interactions with each other. Dierdre and Mark wrote the book after the loss of their daughter, Noelle, and were inspired by her to craft a story told by a young girl to her mother about how much it meant to have her parents to leave the distractions (phone, news, etc.. ) behind and be fully in the moment with her.
Put down the phone, turn off the tv, and give your 100% attention to your child. Of course, not every minute of the day, but there is obvious time when your child wants your attention and wants to share with you. In fact, not just your children, but others in who are important in your life. Being present and self-aware is the only way to truly hear what your children (or anyone) are saying and experiencing. You might think that it’s a small thing, but giving focusing completely on just them gives them the gift of YOU- and it’s a gift that will return to you over and over.
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