The Here-and-Now Practice
Paying attention to the here-and-now is really hard — especially when raising children. It is so hard to focus on the stage that you are in with your calendar or phone constantly pointing out the important things of next week, next month, or next year.
Though there’s plenty of art to raising a child, there’s some really helpful science too. We know that children develop in predictable patterns and stages, right down to the neurological wiring of the brain to the things your child may like to do. Children gravitate toward activities that develop skills they need to grow – they are wired for learning from the day they come out of the womb, and they naturally learn through play.
- Set aside 10 minutes a day to focus on the present moment with your child. It can happen anytime….when he’s immersed in play or when he’s doing internet research.
- Don’t ask what he’s doing, judge it, or make any suggestions. Simply notice what your child is doing, and think about how his activity or focus relates to the stage he’s in – what’s he learning? What skill is he building? What does his interest suggest about him?
Being in the here and now helps you get to know and understand your child, builds compassion, and active listening.
Discover Their Day
While adults are constantly thinking about the future, the past, planning, and analyzing, kids live in the present moment. Focusing on the present time with your kids helps you connect with them and keeps you from missing the important (and often small) things that happen in their lives.
To focus on them, enter their world every day and give them an outlet to tell you about their day. Not all kids are good at verbal communication, so here are a few other ways to help your child work through the good, the bad the ugly in their lives with you.
- Try “story drawing” — draw a character, give the crayon or pen to your child to draw the next ‘scene” – ask “what is going to happen to [character’s name]?” You can let your child give the character a name. Then go back and forth drawing the story of “Johnny’s Day”.
- Go on a walk, a bike ride, or do an activity together like swimming or a puzzle. If you just allow silent moments to hang there, kids will often ask you questions or share their concerns when they have the space to do it.
- Play pretend. Kids use pretend games to make sense of their world and work through challenges they face. if you play pretend games with your kids, and let them drive the storyline, you will get amazing insights into what’s going on in their worlds.
Any of these practices gives a child a vehicle to express and explore their situation and emotions safely. Whatever the outlet may be, help her choose it and give her the space she needs to open up and share her world with you.