Did you see the guy in the coffee shop this morning? Did you see the girl and child during the photo shoot? Many people are taking ‘Selfies”, many are video recording on their Smart phones.
Parents do you see yourself?
This morning I was having my regular coffee at a delightful coffee shop. A guy and a 5-year-old boy entered to enjoy a coffee and a baby chino. Obviously, father and son. They ordered and sat close to my table, where they could enjoy the view. I was thinking, “A typical, devoted father”. Out came the Smart phone. The man enjoyed messages and chats – or perhaps Facebook posts. He often smiled, he reacted by typing. The coffee came, he drank his coffee, the boy enjoyed the baby chino. The man was interacting with the phone.
The boy finished the baby chino, walked a few steps towards the window – immediately the man friendly ordered him to sit on the chair. The boy obeyed. The man obviously finished the conversation/posts/chats on the phone, got up, gestured to the boy to go to the car. They left.
Not a compliment, recognition for good behaviour or eye contact
And I wanted to cry. The man didn’t do anything wrong. He wasn’t nasty. He took his son for an early morning coffee. However, he did not spend 1 minute with his son. He was spending time on his phone. His son was well-behaved but did not receive a compliment, recognition for good behaviour or even a glimpse of eye contact.
I wanted to take a video clip of this incident. I want to show it to the Dad. What is going to happen at home? The boy might display some attention seeking behaviour. The Dad might react by saying: “Hey, but I took him for a coffee!” (They might have spent an hour together prior to the incident. I would not know. Therefor I can merely report on my observations, without judgement.)
15 minutes undivided attention per day
All it takes to make a huge difference in your child and in your day, is 15 minutes of undivided attention every day. It means, no phone, no internet, no talking to others. It means to spend time listening, observing, making eye contact. It means saying: “I’m not answering the phone, I’m playing with you.” It means seeing the castles in the clouds with your child. It means to take time to feed the ducks.
The family photo shoot
A group was enjoying a meal in a restaurant. Obviously, family celebrating a special occasion. The time arrived for a family photo. The girl, I expect the boy’s mother, took the 4-year-old by the arm, indicating that he should stand in front of the elderly lady. The next moment, she told him to sit on another chair. Once again, she pulled him on his arm and asked why he isn’t he standing where she told him to stand. The waiter took the photo. The mother was obviously disappointed with the boy, “I wanted you to be next to Grandma!” she said. The boy didn’t react – I expect that these mixed messages are part of his daily life. The confusion so big that he doesn’t even react to it anymore!
Provide clear and simple commands to your child
Mixed messages, poor quality instructions and long commands, too long for a young child to comprehend, confuse the child. It frustrates the parent. However, quite often the parent does not know how confusing the instructions are.
Listen to yourself, look at yourself, judge yourself
Pretend that you have taken a selfie, pretend that you have recorded a video – not of your child but of yourself. Replay it in your mind and “observe” what your child has seen, has heard and has understood.
What would you do if you have a coffee with a friend who does not recognize that you are there? What would you do if a photographer provides three instructions with different meanings?
Children don’t ask much. But they do ask for the recognition, courtesy and good manners that we display towards our best friends, our bosses and our colleagues. They need 15 minutes of undivided attention from one, preferably both, parents per day. They need clear instructions. They need commands that they can understand. They need eye contact. They need to feel loved, wanted and special.