During our busy schedules we sometimes lose the ability to look deeper into situations with our children. We worry and push harder and we nudge and nag, often forgetting that our children are on their own paths and are moving at the right speed according to their abilities and inner guidance. Sometimes a “big iceberg” surfaces along their path – Johnny can’t read, Betty is misbehaving in class, Ben is not able to go to sleep at night. Yet, before we do anything, let us pause and take the time to pay attention to what is before us.
Why doesn’t Johnny read? Why does he have to read at 6 or 7 years old? Can his young eyes track correctly from left to right, or from one line to the next? Is he distracted by the noises around him, by the flickering of the fluorescent lights in his classroom, or maybe his body did not move enough today to allow him to sit still and focus?
And Betty, why is she misbehaving? If you take time to observe her, you can see that she is constantly adjusting her clothing, scratching her ear or using her index finger to rub the underside of her nose. What did she have for dinner last night or breakfast today? Is she drinking enough water to flush allergens out of her body? Did she have a good night sleep?
And poor Ben, lethargic with dark circles under his eyes. It takes him forever to fall asleep. It started in the 5th grade after seeing scary war images on the news. It seemed so real, not like in the science fiction movies he saw many times before. He never mentioned it to his parents and they never asked, and besides his dad really likes things that have to do with the military. Ben confided to his friends about his fears but they laughed at him. So at night, all alone in his room, he anxiously waits to hear the sirens and war planes overhead.
It takes only moments of focused attention to notice these “things”, to allow us to hear what our children are saying and to gain a deeper understanding into their lives. We pride ourselves on how efficient we are at multitasking all day—working on the computer while talking on the phone, listening to news while cooking, preparing todo lists in our heads while sitting at a meeting or anticipating today’s homework with Betty while listening to her practice her violin.
We often are rushing into the future or dwelling in the past. We miss the opportunity to be here, now. We fail to notice what is going on with us and our children in this very moment. Would it be possible for us to be completely present to our children and make every moment count?
Here are some suggestions to do just that and teach our mind to work for us and to listen to us. Take small steps at first such as taking 15, 10 or even 5 minutes per day to just be. Stop everything and sit quietly and breathe, feel your body moving just slightly, feel the warmth or coldness of your fingers and toes. Just be.
Then dedicate 15, 10 or even 5 minutes each day to focus and be fully present with your child. No phone, no TV or computer, no cooking or cleaning. Let your children feel that at this particular moment of the day, they are most important. Let them feel your presence, your warmth and your love. Observe what happens.
Mariola Strahlberg is the founder of the Shining Mountain’s Children Center where they offer individual and group programs and retreats. It is located in Chestnut Ridge. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 425- 7243 or visit shiningmountainforkids.com.