Better Connect with Your Kids in Less Than 20 Minutes a DayAug 04, 2021
Do you struggle to stay present and connected to your kids when you are with them? I can’t necessarily speak for the Dads, but as a Mom I know that I typically have a constant running list in my head of things. Things that need to be done at work, things that need to be done at home, the schedules for the kids and who has to be where and when, the menu for dinners this week and what needs to be picked up at the grocery store, the list goes on and on.
We would like to think that the lists in our head help us stay on top of things, but they are like a never ending hamster wheel going in our brain that just creates lots of noise.
This came up in a coaching session with a Mom this week who feels less connected to her kids now that she is back to work after maternity leave. She said that she liked herself better as a Mom when she was on maternity leave because she felt she stayed better connected and more present. Now that she’s back to work the noise in her head from everything she is juggling has gotten louder and louder.
As parents, what can we DO to lessen the noise when we want to spend quality time with our kids so we can really connect with them? Well, I’m going to break it down and give you a couple of different strategies so you can be more present and with your kids.
First, it starts with YOU making a commitment to BE more intentional and mindful about the relationship that you’re building with your child. I love the mindfulness paradigm developed by Dr. Shauna Shapiro (link: https://drshaunashapiro.com/) which focuses on Intention, Attention, and Attitude.
Start with INTENTION: Decide that you are taking the next 20 minutes to completely focus on your child and set the intention that you will release the noise for the next 20 minutes so you can stay 100% focused on your child and really connect with them.
Next is ATTENTION: Give your child all of your focus and attention, and work on staying present.
Final step is ATTITUDE: Approach your time with your child with an attitude of curiosity. Instead of directing the time with them, just be curious and see how it unfolds and what they choose to talk about.
Second, let your child decide what they would like to do and what they would like to talk about for the 20 minutes. Kids have so little power over what goes on in their lives, try to give them the power to decide exactly what they want to do. Who knows what they will want to do? Keep your attitude of curiosity to see what comes up for them.
Third, employ Active Listening. Active Listening is the process of listening attentively while someone else speaks, paraphrasing and reflecting back what is said, while withholding judgment and advice. Try to listen and repeat back part of what your child says with a questioning inflection.
Example: Your child says “they made me play this game today at school.” You would just repeat back “they made you play this game today?” Your child might say, “yes, and I didn’t want to.” And then you would respond “you didn’t want to?” And then keep going with the questions.
The idea is that with active listening you are not judging anything that your child says, nor are you giving your child any advice on how to handle things or what to do. You are allowing your child to process and work through anything that might have come up for them that day without feeling any judgment from you. You stay curious to see what they might come up with on their own.
Active Listening involves attention, attitude, and adjustment. We’ve already talked about attention and keeping all of your focus on your child, and having an attitude of curiosity to see how it all unfolds since you will be letting your child direct the time. Adjustment means that you change, adapt and adjust your mannerisms, to provide visual clues that you are listening and engaged with what your child is telling you.
Intentionally practicing active listening will actually help you stay more present because you will be focused on giving clues back to your child that you are listening. In the process you are creating a judgment free space for your child for them to feel safe and to share, creating a stronger connection with them over time.
The key to all of this is consistency and doing this on a regular basis. It’s not about the quantity of time that you are spending with your children, it’s the quality of the time that makes the difference. When you practice active listening and let your child direct this quality time you will likely be amazed at what you learn about your child and how it improves your connection with them.
This strategy is part of my Mindful Parenting Toolbox.
Kids don't come with a parenting manual, and we can all use support at times! If you want to up your parenting game… that’s where I come in. I teach parents brain-based parenting tools and strategies so they become intentional and confident parents raising resilient and emotionally intelligent kids. Unlike other parenting courses and books, I use proven coaching and teaching methods to help parents stop second-guessing, have more positive interactions, and confidently coach their kids to understand and navigate their feelings for optimal emotional health for life. Go to melpeirce.com/consult to book a free discovery call today!
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