Quality time is a rarer breed - it requires us to live completely in the NOW.
It’s one thing to spend time with our kids, but it’s another to be entirely present with them; giving them our full and undivided attention that they need and deserve.
With the hectic day-to-day lives that most of us parents lead, it can be difficult to get in this quality time with our children if it isn’t in the form of spending time while multitasking. Believe me, I know how busy life can get with work, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, helping with schoolwork, driving the kids here and there, and although it might feel like you are spending a lot of time in their presence, the actual quality of that time is of the utmost importance.
This quality time includes intently listening and learning about where your kids are at both mentally and emotionally, and ideally, it should be the time we carve out to focus and hold ourselves accountable as parents, ensuring that our kids are on the right path and feeling confident, strong, and stable.
With that being said, you can approach these conversations using two very different techniques:
The first technique is called "active listening”.
This involves looking your child in the eyes and encouraging them to also make eye contact, which will build confidence in them as they grow and foster other relationships. You can actively ask questions to show your interest, and at the same time draw out deeper, more important subjects to the surface. Always remember that the more information we have from our kids, the more power we have to help guide them.
The second and opposite approach is referred to as the “dumping technique”.
If you notice your child seems particularly distressed or upset, you might want to try this technique where you let them fully “dump” everything they are feeling before you interrupt (this technique also works great with our partners). This method is effective because once they become free of all that information and have nothing left to say, they will also be more open to your opinions. You can, then, use that opportunity to bring healing and growing into this free space. The power of suggestion can be very impactful during this period.
When you use this new sacred time to spend with your kids, find the right questions to ask them - so they can feel safe and comfortable to open up to you.
This includes asking about things like:
- Their friends and relationships
- What kind of things they do at recess or outside of the home
- How they feel when their teachers are instructing or giving lessons.
These are all easy gateway questions. What we are really aiming for is to gain a better sense of their emotional, mental, and physical states, especially during this period of Covid-19.
Here are three helpful tips that I have implemented with both my seven-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son:
1: Pick a time that works for your family so the kids can do a self-reflection on their day.
This could be right after school, during dinner, or I noticed that bedtime seems to be the perfect time where the kids feel more inclined to open up about their thoughts and feelings. This is most likely because they see an opportunity to stall their bedtime, but also, they are in a more relaxed state before sleep, and feel safe and grounded in their beds to share about what’s really going on.
2: Show a genuine interest in their current passions or hobbies.
This provides you and your child with a common denominator, while also allowing for a conversation to organically start to unfold. For example, my nine-year-old son Dylan plays Fortnight, and while I never would have imagined my child would be playing video games involving guns, I know that all the boys in his class are online together and using this tool to communicate with each other. When I simply ask him who he played with that day, usually a whole story unfolds about that person, or what is happening with them in school, or something that they are dealing with, which then allows me to give my adult opinion on the situation that my son is sharing.
Dylan knows that I hate everything to do with guns, but I will still make the effort to ask him questions about which one he uses and plays with during different games. We have had real meaningful conversations about the severity of gun violence in the real world. Through our conversations, he understands the consequences of real-life actions. I am of the belief system that if you are going to let your children do it, make sure you do not turn a blind eye to what is going on, and help them process everything that they are seeing and doing.
3: Bring them into nature as often as you can!
Nature is naturally therapeutic and very grounding, and can help us and our children to clear out anything that we are holding onto. I noticed that my kids hold my hand when we are walking through nature and parks, where as if we were at a grocery store on a main street, they would resist the handholding. When you are actively holding your child’s hand, it represents a beautiful energy cord of safety and love to them.
I let the kids get walking sticks and take their time analyzing things - dead trees, frogs, pine cones, you name it - and while we participate in all of this creative discovery, I take it as an opportunity to start asking questions about their feelings and emotions, their hockey tryout, their dance recital, really whatever it is that resonates with them currently. This is a perfect time to really get into their minds and help them secure a better grasp on life.
Making time to be present with your child is key to establishing a strong life foundation filled with love and self-worth.
The truth is, whether you choose to incorporate these three simple tips, finding your own beautiful pathway to your child’s energy field will grace you with the ability to provide them with inner peace, stability, confidence, and the reassurance that they are good enough and whole/complete as a person. This will go a long way in your child’s life.