With all the distractions of work, technology, and life in general, how can parents be mentally and emotionally available to their children? In the present, there is the opportunity to show up, pay attention, and become the parent you want to be.
This article is an excerpt from the book The Present Parent Handbook. With an easy-to-follow A-Z format, every parent will be able to implement the book’s 26+ simple tools to become a more present parent for their children.
Children grow well in the soil of our attention. They look for us to provide nourishment as they blossom. They sink roots in our love and see their own reflection in our eyes. They bask in the light of our attention. Our presence provides these vital conditions that hold our child in the center of our world and create a sense of continuity and safety.
Present parenting invites us to pause and unplug from external distractionsincluding jobs, errands, and other responsibilities. We don’t attend to our children so that we can get back to our daily tasks; we attend to these tasks so that we can be with our children. The degree to which we are able to be with ourselves and attend to ourselves reflects the degree to which we are comfortable being with our children. Our children will always be our greatest
The Child ZONE
A child’s sense of smell has a potential far greater than ours. Their sense of taste is so developed that it is common, if you listen, to hear your child reference the taste of color. Their eyes take in everything around them: ants as they parade across the floor, birds as they soar, a white speck in an infinite blue sky. Children live in a world where sounds are not separate from the image or the thoughts connecting them. The child zone is a beehive of activity. If we listen closely, we may hear the hum while they live within the dynamic activity of it all.
Children live in a timeless world of possibility. The very phenomenon that children don’t know what time is helps us to be present with them. They remind us again and again that the only time that actually exists, and matters most, is the moment at hand.
In order to help our children learn how to manage time, we have to understand the topography of our child’s world: the child zone. Adults think primarily in terms of deadlines and results, while children think about infinite possibility and the freedom to play, dream, and create.
Scheduling our children based on our expectations never works. Forcing them to relate to time through our lens will most likely lead to a struggle. Playing the “parent as cop” may achieve results, but it rarely rewards anyone involved.
Moments unfold differently in a child’s world: hours can feel like minutes and seconds like hours. “Hurry, Daddy; we have been driving forever.” Children often find their parents’ expectations around timing very limiting. When they hear, “Hurry up; you will be late for school,” the frustration behind our words lands like the boots of a paratrooper in a garden of sweet peas. What is two minutes, really? Imagine if you allowed an extra two minutes to get out the door. Better yet, maybe you rise a little earlier in the morning. Perhaps you get your children out of bed with plenty of time to spare.
At any age, a child, left to their own way, is not connected to the time and space continuum necessary for them to make a smooth transition. It isn’t that they are deficient in some way; their minds are simply considering possibilities that adults don’t even imagine.
If we patiently and consistently support our children in making successful transitions, then a schedule becomes co-created. How we manage time in our life will determine how seamlessly we teach our children to manage time in theirs. Maintaining a “child zone” mindset helps both of you to navigate the day-to-day trajectory of your lives and prepares everyone to handle even the most unexpected moments with ease.
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“If you can recognize that your child needs to be witnessed, held, and loved by you, he or she will have a chance to thrive.”
With all the distractions of work, technology,…
The Present Parent Handbook
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