What are you like in the moments when you pick your child up from daycare? Are you calm, engaged with your child, and open for information? Or are you still carrying the stress from your job or focused on all the things you have to get done in the next 2 hours? That moment when parents and children come back together after being apart for a half or full day is more critical to your child’s development than you might realize.
In my years of observing behaviors at child care centers, the behaviors most frustrating to me were those exhibited by the parents coming in to pick up their children. They show up with Blackberry or iPhone in hand, focused on reading emails or sending text messages. Even worse are the parents who have Bluetooth devices on their ear, carrying on a conversation! And all the while, their child is jumping up and down with joy to see mommy or daddy, only to be scolded to calm down and to go retrieve their items from their cubby. One woman snapped at her over excited daughter, “Get moving! We have to get your brother to his soccer game and then get home for dinner, quickly now!” The little girl then threw herself on the floor and began to cry, which only made mom more angry and frustrated.
Here are 5 tips for making the daily reunion moment special and increasing the bond with your young child.
1. Find a way to decompress when leaving the office. Make exercise a new component of your afternoon or take a few moments to just breathe deeply and meditate. Your child is important and your work will still be there later.
2. Leave your phone in the car and “show up” in the moment 100% for your child. Wear a face and a smile that says, “I’m here for you and nothing else exists for the moment.”
3. Get down to your child’s eye level while he is talking to you. He has so much to share with you that transpired during the time you’ve been a part. Nothing is more important to him than what’s on his mind at the moment.
4. Keep quiet and take this opportunity to listen. I know that you’re running short on time and you have so much to accomplish over the next few hours, but your child doesn’t care about that right now.
5. Take your child to a park bench or some other quiet area for just 10 - 15 minutes to reconnect. She has so much to tell you about and craves a few minutes of dedicated attention to reconnect. If you give your child 100% of your attention well enough, it will be much easier to get her cooperation to go on to the next thing you have to accomplish.
Click THIS LINK to download a handout to share this article with parents.
Bill Corbett is the author of the award-winning parenting book series, LOVE, LIMITS, & LESSONS: A PARENT'S GUIDE TO RAISING COOPERATIVE KIDS (in English and in Spanish) and the executive producer and host of the public access television show CREATING COOPERATIVE KIDS. He is a member of the American Psychological Association and the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology, Bill provides parent coaching and keynote presentations to parent and professional audiences across the country. He sits on the board of the Network Against Domestic Abuse, the Resource Advisory Committee for Attachment Parenting International, and the management team of the Springfield Parent Academy. Bill's practical experience comes as a father of 3 grown children, a grandfather of two, and a step dad to three, and resides with his loving wife Elizabeth and teenage step daughter Oliva. Email Bill.