My children can understand everything… and so can yours.
I try not to have conversations about my daughter in front of her without letting her know that we both know who I’m speaking about. I don’t speak about her as if she can’t hear me and I don’t appreciate it when others do either.
“your daughter is so well behaved”
“thank you, feel free to tell her yourself.”
“your daughter really speaks well for her age.”
“thank you, would you mind telling her that?”
I am flattered and in awe of the lovely things that parents say to one another about their children and I realize at times it’s an attempt to start conversations with other parents and find a common ground, but I would love it if those parents could also direct those comments to the person they are speaking about, and I imagine my daughter would love it to!
Similarly, I find it to be “poor form” to talk about a child’s downfalls, mishaps, etc right in front of them. If they were adults, you would never see people doing this, but for some reason it’s okay with children?? My mind is boggled that we don’t recognize that children can hear, understand and comprehend the things we are discussing about them… and then break conversation to tell them how to do something or to stop doing something. Including your children in conversations about them will only help their greater understanding of themselves and how to converse with others.
I find myself quite often at the dinner table with a guest or my husband, talking about something that happened that day, only to be interrupted by my two year old daughter by either, “Talk to me mama,” or “Tell a story about a big boy and the big girl…” I quickly realized that I was treating her as if she couldn’t comprehend what I was saying and even worse, leaving her out of the conversation. Cue old saying of parents telling the children, “Do not speak unless spoken to…” Ugh, I hate even typing that. I realized quickly that it’s so important to keep your child engaged. How would you feel at a table if everyone talked around you and never included you? It’s no wonder so many children feel the need to go down the dark rabbit hole of cell phones and ipads.
Children are constantly suppressed in this large world and look at as incapable or too young, but are we just giving them that title or doing things to keep them at that level? The number of families I see eating out at restaurants with all four kids on iPads is fascinating. There is no judgement here as I have many times needed to use my trusted iPad buddy to allow myself some moments of sanity… it’s the constant use of this, the true replacement of teaching your child to be present and communicating with other humans… of CONNECTING.
How can we as parents expect our children to learn how to connect with others when we haven’t connected with them or shown them how to connect with us.
Challenge yourself to take your children out to dinner, like you would another couple, and talk to them freely. Speak to them and not just about them. Learn to have everyone have a pause or moment of brief silence. Ask them about things that intrigue them. Tell them jokes and make them laugh. Play rock, paper, scissors while you wait. Do a magic trick or have them show you one. Still assist in the parental duties if they are throwing food or limits are need, but bounce right back to connecting. Show them how to connect, how to love and interact in a way that will behoove them with others but most importantly, with you.
I invite you to connect with me and leave your experiences on how you feel about the way others may connect with your children or how you've become successful at connecting with your own.
Gratitude & Love