Staying Present in the New Year (and always)
We live in a fast-paced world. Parents are good at multitasking, being busy, moving quickly and getting it all done. We rely on technology to help us be efficient but that means we are often plugged in and preoccupied. Another down side of efficiency is that it can get in the way of being present and connecting with our children in meaningful ways.
Children want our love and connection more than anything—even more than the cookie or toy they may be screaming about. Being fully present with our kids means we listen to them with our hearts, we accept who they are, and we do our best to experience their world. When we make the choice to do this, children feel our presence. Our closeness makes them feel loved and safe; it creates security and trust.
In this New Year, we encourage you to make a conscious effort to slow down and connect. Challenge yourself to be fully present with your child for 20 minutes a day. If you have more than one child, make time for 20 minutes each.
Sit uninterrupted, with no agenda or expectations. Let your child lead the activity or conversation.
Offer your undivided attention. Give eye contact and loving touch.
Fully listen to your child. Tune in to her feelings. Care about what she is talking about. Mirror her enthusiasm or concern.
Allow yourself to appreciate your amazing child. Let in the joy and love.
Be curious and discover something new about your child.
If you become impatient or your mind wanders, avoid self-criticism. This is normal. It is what wandering minds do. Simply bring yourself back to the moment by focusing on your breath. Breathe in love, exhale tension. Your breath is the quickest way back to feelings of peace and contentment and connection to you. Your breath brings you back to the present. When you are truly present, there is no stress.
Being present with your child on a regular basis deepens your connection and allows your child to feel more loved, accepted and secure. And, there are biological and emotional benefits as well. Your child’s neural pathways will be strengthened and her emotional regulation will be enhanced. When children feel connected, their emotions are more regulated which means there is a decrease in anxiety, acting out, misbehavior and sibling rivalry. Your presence is not only a gift to your child; it is a gift to yourself.
Wishing you joy, peace and love in the New Year –
Karen and Lauren