I recently read this article and it made so much sense. So many times our children act up because they are feeling disconnected from us. In this technological age, we are usually attached to a screen most of the day. Sadly, this is disconnecting us from each other more often than not.
A few of my friends have grown children who have moved out. They truly enjoy being with their children and always made time for them. I also know of grown children who are not doing as well because they were harshly parented and they knew the parents didn’t always want to deal with them.
Starting at birth, children are extremely sensitive to our vibes. They know if you don’t want to be with them. I have observed many times that children who have parents who do their best to remain connected with their children and truly want to be with the children have more independent children.
Why? Because when children get their fill of our love and attention, they are free to enjoy times when we aren’t able to be one-on-one with them. They know that if they need us, we’ll be there.
The Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) Approach recommends starting this deep connection at birth. Infants require so much care that we should be using this time to really connect with them instead of rushing through daily care activities. This means being fully present with the infant during changing diapers and clothes, feedings, bathing, and nap time and bedtime routines. When we are fully present, we are making deep connections with the child that fill their social-emotional needs. Then they can do brief sessions of independent play more easily.
As infants become toddlers and preschoolers, many outbursts and meltdowns have their roots based upon feeling connected with us. Spending at least 15 minutes twice a day one-on-one with the child can help fill his/her connection bucket. And in situations where we can’t be fully present with them, doing simple things such as making eye contact, smiling at them, touching them, nodding to acknowledge them can make a huge difference in their behavior.
I know pro-spankers and other people who believe in harsh parenting will ask, “Doesn’t this make them more clingy?” What these people fail to understand is that forcing children to be independent before they are ready is what makes them “clingy.” Sure, you can spank/hit them to teach them not to “bug” you when you don’t want them to, but you’re actually breaking connection which usually backfires. Even if they don’t bother you, they will do things that are wrong just to get attention from someone.
Then when they are adults, they may have trouble with their relationships. If they’re never taught how to truly connect with others then it will hurt them throughout their lives.
I love parents who are able to be there for their children even when they are socializing with adults. For example, at a party I witnessed a mother who was fully engaged with her adult friends but the minute she thought she heard a child say, “Mom,” she paused to see if the children were in need. The children played with each other as well as came in with the adults without being rude. They didn’t interrupt. They were very respectful.
I think part of the “problem” with “today’s children” is that they are not getting the connection they need. Then they get punished for acting up. We need to put down the screens and the demands of life and do our best to connect with our children.