One evening a woman came up to me just before my class began and said, “You know that hand thingy? I used it and it didn’t work.” She was referring to Step Five: Lovingly touch your child. It doesn’t work when we use it like a technique. She didn’t have the thought, how can I connect with my child? It was more like, If I use this, I can get my child to do what I want. Your intention is crucial. You don’t need parenting tools and techniques when you truly connect with your child.
A coaching client called me one day to ask more about connecting.
“What activities would you suggest I do with my children to connect more with them?”
“It’s not about the activity,” I told her. “It’s never about the activity. It’s about the quality of the connection, whether you are engaged in an activity or not.”
“What do you mean?” she asked. I then described how to move toward your child with love.
“Then, how do you connect with your children?” she asked. “For example, what did you do last week? Give me some ideas!” My mind went blank; I could not think of any specific things I had done to connect with my children during the past week. I did agree to write down all the connecting moments I could in the upcoming week and report back to her in seven days. Here’s my list:
- When my seven-year-old was quietly playing solitaire on the computer, I sat down in the chair with her, became interested in the game, and played with her. (Moved toward my child with love while she was content)
- I invited the girls to help me cut up vegetables to feed the hamster. (Set my intention to connect)
- When my ten-year-old said, “Come with me to do my homework,” I let go of a cleaning project, went into her room, and sat on her bed for about half an hour while she did her homework. We had intermittent conversations about her new erasers, an upcoming birthday party, and how much she liked her teacher. (Moved toward my child while she was content)
- When they arrived home from school, I sat down, made eye contact, and listened to the details of their day, consciously choosing to talk very little. It was amazing how much they had to say when I made the “space.” (Used few words)
- When the girls got home from school, I got off the phone and asked if they wanted to go next door to our rental apartment to see the new carpet that had been installed that day. I then watched them dance around and run through the apartment. When I was ready to leave and they were not, I gave them a few more minutes since I was not rushed. (Set my intention to connect, smiled, gave all of my focused attention, offered friendly eye contact)
- We went to get ice cream; I made friendly eye contact, and really enjoyed the ice cream and company of my family. (Offered friendly eye contact and used few words)
- On the way home from the grocery store, the girls asked to stop in a second hand store. Again, since I was not on a time schedule (and yes, often I am!) I patiently watched them try on and model high-heeled shoes. (Gave all of my focused attention)
Not too glamorous is it? Can you see that it’s about being, rather than doing? You do not have to add any special activities, just be fully present using the eight steps to move toward your child with love.