Take a minute to think about positive childhood memories that are the most vivid in your mind — most likely they involved multiple senses. A mind retains and absorbs multisensory experiences in a way that more shallow experiences are not processed.
An example of this might include two types of trail walks. First, a toddling child allowed to walk at their own pace stops to observe what is happening above, hear the call of a hawk, observe the life in a “dead” tree, feel the bark, dig under the leaves, smell the peat and experience the layers of life, sharing dialog along the way.
Or, a parallel and less complex experience might include a walk along a bike trail, the adult has his or her phone in hand, smart watch being monitored, little dialog taking place, child in a stroller, a sense of urgency pervading all.
Both commendable as time outside with a child. Both are positive experiences, yet which allows more connection between parent and child, more authentic interaction? Taking time to communicate supports and enhances getting to know who your child is in a way mere presence does not.
What activities are chosen for children? A balance between the choice of a parent and the child’s choice should be the overall goal. Parameters around appropriate activities such as a certain price range, weather appropriateness etc., can be preestablished.
Whose interests are being honored or is the plan to try something new?
When parents introduce children to activities or interests that they themselves enjoy, it demonstrates a connection that inauthentic interactions lack. Exposing children to many choices opens minds and expands horizons.
Try collaborative decisions and open-ended adventures. All fun and new experiences for everyone. Thoughtful parenting. Authentic interactions.
Photo by Emma Bauso.
30-plus years of parenting while running a children’s center, coupled with child development education, research, observation and collaboration, led Jackie to the realization that there are solid strategies to be shared among parents that support and enhance the parenting journey. confidentparentingstrategies.com.