You know those mornings when the eggs are burning in the pan, you can only find one shoe, and somehow each of your children seem to have something they absolutely HAVE to tell you RIGHT this moment? Or how some days you spot your kids playing quietly… so you pull out your laptop to return an email or two and then suddenly, they are arguing and coming to you for something new every two seconds?
We all know that kids take a lot of attention but the fact is, your kids don’t actually even WANT your attention constantly… they want something totally different that they don’t know how to identify.
And when they aren’t getting it, they will nag and complain and whine just to get a reaction out of you because they aren’t getting what they truly want beneath the surface. The thing that kids are usually really missing when they are constantly nagging, whining, and complaining is quality time and undivided attention! I often speak about how entertaining your children 24/7 will not only drive you insane but isn’t the best thing for their development in the long run. But in order to get your kids playing independently on a regular basis, they first need to have their connection tanks filled up.
When kids feel connected to their parents, they relax. They become more easy going and more independent because their connection with you feels secure and close. But the mistake I see so many parents make is that they spend a ton of time with their kids but they are seldom really WITH their kids.
We are all guilty of this in various parts of our lives. With our busy, full lifestyles and our access to technology, we have become a culture of constant distraction and partial attention. But kids don’t respond to your partial attention. Kids respond to quality time and undivided attention.
If you want your kids to be more independent and more at ease when you are busy, FIRST they need to know for certain that they can count on true quality time and connection with you on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time each day but whatever time you choose, make it consistent. And ideally, make it ritualistic. It can be a special outing once a week or a cup of tea together in the morning. But mostly importantly, whatever and whenever the time…only be there with your child and don’t do anything else.
Focus on asking them questions… share stories with them about your week, your day, or your life… and just put everything else away. Put your phone away, put your thoughts away, and put any other distractions on hold.
When you spend this kind of time with your kids you will watch them grow more relaxed and independent. That’s not to say that they will never nag you again, but now when they do you can tell them, “right now I need to focus on X and when we have our date you will have all of my attention. But in order for that to happen, I need to focus on this other thing right now.” And most importantly when you have scheduled quality time with them, you can tell them when you are busy with a clear conscience knowing you will have your time to connect.