Here’s the thing: you can never spoil your kids with attention. Spoiled children are created when parents substitute attention with toys and video games. A trip to Disney World, instead of an intimate trip to the park. Children are not spoiled by love. They are spoiled when parents think that love is shown by gifts, and all the latest technological toys. Love is shown with time, and a special presence in our child’s life. A child can have extremely hard-working and busy parents, and still feel loved, if their parents are conscious to be fully present in their child’s life.
Why this is important, especially now
There’s been another major shift between generations. As we all know, this young generation is deeply affected by the boom in technology and social media. They are taught to dress as the popular stars, sing along to the explicit songs, and above all, like, share, and post, on all the available streams of social media.
Alone, this would not be such a problem. Every generation felt they had to keep up with the changing social expectations. But now we’re all in a different world. Parents are on their computers, while their children are on their Iphones that can give them access to anything, anywhere.
A child in this generation can access pornography before they have even hit puberty, and sing horrifying lyrics to explicit songs before they even know what it’s talking about. Twelve year old girls are now at the level of a fifteen year old, and the fifteen year olds are going on twenty.
After all this access and premature experiences, what do children do with all this information? How do they process? Who do they go to with questions?
They go to you. Or they don’t, and remain with the illusions that all this information brings.
The parents and teachers of this generation have a huge responsibility. In this age of constantly being plugged in, this is the time when we most need to be paying attention and participating in important dialogue with our children.
A child’s first sex education cannot be from pornography. And we don’t save them from this by blocking more sites or breathing down their necks. We do this by being the first source of information for our children. We do this by being honest and unafraid of the open questions that children ask us.
We do this, by not creating shame around these subjects, but by treating them with care and wisdom. We do this by being fully there for our children, by showing them that we can talk to them without judgment. We do this by having a presence in our child’s life.
This is especially crucial when children are still young, and you are building your relationships foundation with them.
Here’s How You Can Stay Present with your Children in the Midst of Technology:
“We live in an age in which telecommunication is very sophisticated, but communication between parents and children is suffering. We have lost the capacity to listen to each other, to talk to each other in the language of understanding. The practice of mindfulness can help us go back to ourselves, to calm ourselves, to look deeply in order to transform.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Put the phone down
When you and your child are interacting, whether they have sat down to talk, or whether you are just telling them to clean their room, your interactions should be free of your phone, or other distractions. Just spend those few minutes focusing only on this interaction. It’s not enough to just turn the screen off. Put your phone face-down on the table or completely out of sight.
This will give a message to the child that what he/she is saying is important, and that it is a time just for you two, and no other distractions are taking away from it. This sets a better environment for a child to open up, and a better environment for the parent to listen with their full attention. This also gives a message to the child for his future: that interactions are more important than what’s going on in his screen.
Spend quality time
Set aside a certain time a week or even a day to spend quality time (again, without technology or distractions). This can be playing a game with them, or taking them out to the park for a picnic. Find your mutual interests and activities, and plan a day to explore them together.
Each child should feel that they have a special time with their Mom or Dad, when they are only focusing on them and their relationship. So, although it’s great to do things as a family there should also be separate time for each child.
Make space for open conversations
Another good way to spend quality time is to open up space for an ongoing, and open dialogue. Even if we are busy the whole day, and really can’t give our full attention, you can start paying attention at night when things have settled down. Ask your child before bed if they have anything they had wanted to tell you during the day, but couldn’t; or even if they just have a question, or tidbit about their day. Most likely they will, and they’ll be grateful for the chance to talk a little bit.
Respect your child
When speaking to your child, remind yourself that they are capable and wise. Although every child needs guidance, we need to acknowledge that each child is on his/her own journey, and we should treat them that way. This means, no “because I said so’s”. If a child is unhappy with a decision that you made, or a situation in their home or school, ask them to explain why it is they are upset, and be ready to help them find comfortable solutions or compromises.
Every child should be made to feel respected and capable of making good decisions for their life. By being able to talk about it with an adult who respects them, they learn the tools they need to make these decisions on their own later on.
Tell them how much you love them
It’s simple. You love your children, and they love you. And, some people need to hear it more than others, but why not tell them how much they mean to you? Tell them how much you love them until their response is “I know, I know, you tell me all the tiiiime”.
Children need so much from us in order to thrive and be their best selves. And yet, they don’t
need anything we don’t already have for them. Every parent wants to give their child the love
they need, and we don’t need to pay a cent in order to show them we care.
Fully present moments, honest talk, and lot’s of hugs and kisses, will put parents on the right track to fulfilling
relationships with their loved ones.