When I start talking to parents about some of their child’s behaviors that they are concerned and frustrated about, we often begin to see that the real goal of their child’s misbehavior is attention seeking.
I talked to a mom with two children under three and a half recently. She was feeling somewhat exasperated by the thought that her three and a half year old would be acting out for attention. It seemed to her that, as a full-time-stay-at-home-mom, her whole day was spent attending to the children.
Almost every mom out there can relate to that feeling. Even the comedians joke, “I do and I do and I do for you kids and that’s the thanks I get for it”.
But often, with so many demands placed on today’s parents, the missing link is not attending to their needs and requests but actual eye contact. How often do we stop what we are doing and look our child in the eye and listen.
This particular mom got misty-eyed as she pondered this. With a 15-month old into everything and needing more in-arms-time, constantly keeping up with things to do around the house, shopping, meals, activities to get to for the children, a husband who works long hours, the days were already packed.
It doesn’t have to be a big thing, I assured her – just a short time when her daughter would know that she had her mom’s ears and eyes.
I suggested having a tea party. There’s something very intimate about sitting across the table from someone, chatting, listening, pouring, sharing, growing. It opens up such an opportunity to be all ears, to laugh, to tell her about when you were little, to respond, to plan, to wonder, to notice … her.
By the way, this is not just for little girls. Most little boys I know would love to go along with a tea party, especially if they get to pour.
Tea parties can be simply sitting at a table together, sharing a hot/cold drink, (though especially important to be in a teapot) and perhaps a cookie to go along with it.
Fast forward to the middle grade years, the high school years and picture the same scene, perhaps at a coffee shop or fast food. It might not be considered a tea party any longer, but the foundation of sitting across a table and sharing has been set. Look forward to keeping it up, changing it up, as your child matures.
The idea of having a tea party declares to your child, there is time for just you – time for tea for two.
“Mama, put the kettle on, we’ll both have tea.”