Activity of Choice: Your Presence

whirlwind2“We’re so busy with activities.”

Parents come to me with pressing child problems in busy family lives.  These problems occur alongside basketball, swimming or soccer practice, gymnastics, dance or piano lessons.  Or speech, occupational therapy, music therapy, pediatric specialists.  Life is busy!  And every activity is intended to enrich development,  release energy, or develop lagging skills.

But many parents grimace as their eyes dart across cell phones calendars … looking for even one free day to schedule the therapy they’re seeking from me.  Truly, I do understand, kids need certain appointments, even if they are piling up.  Seems they need so many things. But in all those appointments, what might they NOT be getting?

Kids are missing YOU.

Ironically, one of the most therapeutic activities is 1:1 parent-child time. Honestly, I prescribe it a lot.  Parents are surprised, expecting a fancier initial treatment. But quality parent-child time heals so much. It’s often the most productive and efficient starting point.  Recently, a devoted mother found herself in tears, realizing how hard it was to find 15 minutes a day for one of her kids. “Fifteen minutes,” she winced … “I felt like I spend lots of time with her each day … but not for any quality stretch of time.”

The old school truth, in these new school times, remains the same: Kids need your time, your attention more than anything else. Even if they don’t seem interested. Don’t let Minecraft or the latest phone game fool you.

Ten minutes a day can make a lifetime relationship change.

The most therapeutic thing I can recommend is 10-15 minutes per day talking and playing with your young child.  Not correcting her or reprimanding ~ not reviewing what “better choices” he could have made.  Save those discussions for another time. Just make time for hanging out;  noticing him, noticing her; joining your children in their worlds.

Phones? Nope, not during this time.  We may believe that if parental body is in the same room, facing one’s child, a phone in hand doesn’t matter.  But your child knows you simply aren’t “there.” Hard to put it down? Yes.  But the payoff is priceless. There’s no single breaking news story, Pinterest pin, Snapchat update, click bait or Facebook Marketplace item that’s as important as connecting with your child today.

Some years from now, your grown child will lace fingers with a sweetheart … who will ask, “So, tell me about your Mom; what was your Dad like?” All your parenting years moments will fuse and condense into a 2-to-5-word perception.  He or she was “always on the phone” or “always working,” “kinda distant,” “usually complaining…”  “not really around” … What do you want your child’s 5 words to be? Make 10 minutes a day and shape them.

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