This means removing distractions, like the phone, television, computer, etc. This isn’t always face to face interaction. Sometimes it can be enjoying a hobby or meal together. It may involve a late night session of learning how to play Rock Band. The point is to be available.
When choosing how to interact with your child remember to keep it on their level. I made the mistake of trying to teach my daughter tennis at the tender age of four and expecting her to be responsive to my techniques. She quickly taught me that I needed to be on here level, so we reduced tennis to some basic motor skills and hand eye coordination with a racket and made a really fun game of it (we didn’t even worry about the net… which is where I started).
Her dance instructors are amazingly sharp at getting on her level. In a few short lessons she knows more about dance than I would have ever hoped to learn.
Try to imaging the world from the eyes of your child (especially if they are younger). We made the mistake of letting our daughter watch Scooby Doo. Everything seemed fine during the day, but at night she was seeing “creepy” monsters and ghosts all over the place. Not so much because scooby do is Evil (they do reveal the real culprit at the end of each show), but because she has an active imagination. Things that seem harmless to us can be scary to our children. Things that seem clear to us can be confusing to our children. Its important that we try to remember or understand what life is like on their level.
Somewhere many of us have adopted the idea that it would be a good idea to persuade our kids what they should do instead of telling them what to do. You may catch yourself dropping hints instead of giving actual commands. We’ve found that stating the obvious really goes along way towards moving your child to be productive. If you want something done like having the trash taken out, a room cleaned, home work done, etc. Be direct.
Sometimes we forget that what is clear to us, may not be clear to our kids. Not only is it important to be direct, but be simple. Sometimes what appears as disobedience our kids part is really a lack of clarity on our part. Here are a few basic tips for clarity.
1. use simple language (make sure your kids know what you are saying)
2. Provide direction. ” You can’t be in your brother’s room right now. You can play outside or in your toy room, which one would you like to do?”
3. Give options, but not to many. Notice there were only two options above. This gives your child room to make a decision about playtime. We intentionally limit the options. Too many options stifle the decision making process.