Amy McCready, Parent Educator, speaking in La Crosse on Thursday at Western Technical College, advised each parent to spend ten minutes two times a day with each of their children individually, being emotionally available to him/her and doing what he/she wants to do as one way to get kids to listen without parents having to nag, yell and shout.
Several parents have commented to me since that this is impossible for them. One parent says she and her husband both work outside the home and have hardly enough time to do the absolutely necessary things to get through the day. Another parent has four children under six and felt discouraged that she could ever pull this off.
Some of you may have heard me talk about a senior citizen I met who had five children she raised by herself in the early fifties, working outside the home, with no additional support. I asked her how she accomplished this. She smiled as she told me she had no extra time at all to spend with each child, but every day, she saw to it that she made each child think “I’m my Mom’s favorite” – whether it was one child passing through the kitchen and getting the chance to lick the beaters, a private wink, a hug on the run, or a focused two minutes to listen to what happened at gym class while she did the dishes, it worked.
We can’t always accomplish the ideal but it’s a good goal to have. Like this mom, if we get to connect two minutes more than is usual with each child, a difference will be felt.
I agree with McCready who says make use of what you are already doing in your everyday routine. Having a young child be with you in the kitchen, doing the laundry, walking the dog, cleaning out a closet might not seem exactly what the child wants to do. But when that time is offerred as a time to spend with a parent, talking, laughing, discussing, making choices, we can intentionally turn it into a clear connection.
Sometimes the best advice needs to be modified to fit personal circumstances and if small changes offer up time saved in nagging andyelling, more oportunities to connect will continue to present themselves.
If everytime we helped a child with a coat, hat and boots, or washed her up in the tub, we actually focused in a postive way on this particular child in front of us, her eyes, her expression, her very being, smiled, chatted, thanked her for cooperating, shared what was happening next, we might both benefit and feel the difference.
I believe doing a group-two-times-a-day-time with all the children could reap rewards also, perhaps not only winning cooperation with you but raising the connections among the siblings. McCready suggests labeling this time to your child/children as “our special time”. The activity might not be extraordinary but as McCready said and you’ve heard me say many times, just watch your children as they turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.
This would mean, not only going out in the yard with your kids, but playing tag with them, hide- and -go -seek, kick ball, making mud pies. If you’re out there anyway supervising, you might as well have some fun. In the house, coloring with them, having a tea party, singing together the same songs each time you ride in the car, even taking turns twirling each child around can count as a connecting moment.
If we intentionally think about sticking two times a day into our busy schedules, whether it’s two minutes or ten, we might find we suddenly feel as if we have even more time than before. McCreedy refers to this as Mind, Body and Soul time. I’ve always called it connection. I like her idea of labeling the time so children are aware it is happening.
Like the childcare provider I posted about recently who offerred each child their own “talking time” at rest time and the children who cherished that experience, we can begin to find our own ways that will go toward making a difference.
Take some time to think about your day and how and when you might be able to fit in a connection, a mind, body, and soul time, whether with each child individually or all the children together. Simply holding hands around the table before meals and sending a squeeze from one family member to the next is a group connection, a ritual that can be fun and meaningful and count.
Just keep in mind, little things, often make small differences and small differences add up to great moments.
It was wonderful to see so many interested participants at the Is Shouting the New Spanking presentation. Just a reminder about two up-coming workshops at Family Resources. This Thursday, April 15th, 6:00 p.m. -7:30 p.m., Chris Peterson, Education Consultant, will be presenting Parenting is a Breeze and on Thursday, April 29th, 9:30 a.m. -11:00 a.m., Fran Swift will present Toddlers, You’ve Got to Love Them!
Registration is necessary and limited childcare is available. Call Family Resources at 784-8125 to register or answer any questions you may have.