Do you expect your children to multitask?
And by that, I mean something as simple as brushing their teeth, and at the same time, hearing your request to put the clothes in the hamper.
Does it seem like they ignore you? Like they're not listening at all?
I know this feeling. I also know that my daughter's current stage of development includes some inflexibility and one-track thinking.
Just this morning, I asked her about her birthday party and almost immediately, she stopped brushing her hair and stared off into space.
"I'm sorry, go ahead and finish brushing your hair. We can talk about it later."
"Thank you," she sighed, relieved to return to the task at hand.
Yes, it would have been ideal for me if I could have discussed her birthday party details WHILE she was brushing her hair. But, when she is focused on something she can hardly stand hearing the murmur of nearby conversations, let alone having a conversation.
She is a child who cannot yet focus on more than one task at a time. I've learned that I have to wait. Tempted as I am to lay out a week's worth of chores and ideas in one mini-lecture, I realize she needs mini-bits of information.
Skill development is unique for all kids. Just because your child has trouble now, doesn't mean this is the final outcome. Focus, attention, and multitasking are executive function skills that are not well-developed in children.
While I believe that all children are deserving of respectful, conscious parenting, for sensitive children, it is imperative to their well-being and growth.
Here are 3 ways you can promote skill-building in your children:
1. One thing at a time. If you catch yourself giving more than one instruction or making more than one request at a time - stop and pick one.
Likewise, if your child is in the middle of something, first connect and take an interest in what they're doing before you share your thoughts.
2. Give space. When children becomes overstimulated because of too much information at once, it's best to give them the space to reconnect with their body before giving instructions.
They will feel a better sense of control if you can reduce the input and give space to allow them the time to regulate.
3. Reflecting instead of directing. Telling children what needs to be done is helpful - once. After that, directing becomes nagging which becomes annoyance which leads to defiance.
"Why haven't you cleaned your room?" or "Pick up those clothes before you go out to play!"
This stimulates a child's survival brain and encourages defensiveness.
PLAN B? Reflecting.
"I noticed the clothes on your bedroom floor this afternoon. What do you think stopped you from getting your room in order?"
This stimulates a child's thinking brain and encourages reflection.
If you want to strengthen the skills - you have to activate the correct part of the brain (the executive center or "thinking brain"). Practice makes us conscious!
What do you think? Share your stories and thoughts in the comments below. The discussion is where so many Aha! moments happen.
Until next time, please remember it's about consciousness - not perfection!
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