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Learning to Be Present with Your Children

Feel your feet on the ground. Softly look at your children. Breathe, listen, and feel. Wait, respond, don’t prejudge what they are saying, don’t complete their sentences.

Be curious, act as if it is the first time they are speaking with you.

Repeat what they said and wait for their response. Keep your words short and then pause and wait for their response. As you are taking in their body language, notice their face, their hands, their feet. You can not spoil them by acknowledging them. Give real compliments. Share real feelings of the ways you love them. Tell them what they add to your life, be specific, with examples when you can. Don’t be phony they will know. Gently touch their shoulder or stroke their hair. Reach for their hand. Ask questions, but if you notice annoyance by their body signals, drop it. Apologize often and say thank you often. Let them see ways that you are human, ways you make mistakes, and how you deal with the bad feelings you have … ways you feel insecure or left out or stupid ...

Model how you simply take time to be everyday, for instance, like listening to music, reading , doing art, staring out a window, going for a walk. Show them how you give to your friends by calling them, or having surprises for them ... Cook with your kids, sing, dance, ask if they need help. Offer them choices. Let them fall and pick up their own “mistakes,” don’t “save” them, so that you can foster self-reliance. Lighten up on chores. Lighten up on consequences. Teach rather than punish. Prepare them for consequences. Need a verb here cause and effect rather than fearing you. Build trust ... let them know that trust can be broken. Show unconditional love when the going gets tough. Cry. Remember they have only been on this planet for a short time and they are here as a gift to you, so cherish them.

Teach them to stand tall. Teach them words to say by role-playing. Don’t assume, let go of expectations and show them how you can handle chaos, drama, hurt, pain as a human not a super human. Model being changeable and unpredictable as well as reliable. Let them see what your comfort zones are. Give them chances to undo their errors through discovery and listening rather than rules and demands … softens calmness so that anger is real.

By: Natalie Caine

Related Story: 10 Things I Would Do as a Parent of a Teen

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