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The "Power of Now" for Parents and Children

Updated on January 10, 2018
Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy has been working in the field of education for many years specializing in both Waldorf and Montessori methodology.

Have you ever spoken with an adult and during the discussion realized that they were not focusing on the conversation? Maybe they were looking away or robotically nodding at you. Maybe you could just sense that they were thinking about something else. This kind of conversation can never go beyond a superficial level. The relationship with this person will likely remain limited.

Now lets imagine that you are a young child spending time with your parent, but this parent is not focusing on you, they seem distracted. You want their attention but don’t know how to get it. How would this make you feel? To most children this would feel bad; the child would feel hurt, rejected and unimportant. The child is looking to make this connection and bond however the parent is thinking about work, dinner, shopping, future plans or any of the many other thoughts that run through an adult’s mind.

This is obviously not an ideal opportunity for the bonding that every child needs. Children are born ready to bond with their parent and one ingredient necessary for this bonding is the parent being present or ‘in the moment’ or ‘in the now’. This means thinking of nothing else but what is going on in the present with the objects and people around you and experiencing this in a physical sense. It is not always possible for parents to provide their child with undivided attention but it is important for a parent to realize that the child needs this experience at times throughout the day.

If the parent is ‘present’ while engaged with a child, the message the child receives is "you are valuable to me" on the other hand if the parent is constantly thinking of something other than the present activity, then the message is "you are not that important." Some other benefits of being 'present' with your child are:

  • Bonding - Being present with your child creates an everlasting connection.
  • Concentration - If you are simply concentrating on the activity with your child you are teaching focus by imitation.
  • Peacefulness - There is a sense of peace when you can let go of everything else in your life and just be.
  • Joy - There is no greater pleasure than being ‘in the moment’ with your child.
  • A legacy – Not only will the child learn to be present with you but with all other people in their lives including friends, future spouses and then their own children.

If I had my child to raise over again

I'd build self-esteem first and the house later

I'd finger paint more and point the finger less

I would do less correcting and more connecting

I'd take my eyes off my watch and watch with my eyes

I would care to know less and know to care more

I'd take more hikes and fly more kites

I'd stop playing serious and seriously play

I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars

I'd do more hugging and less tugging

I'd see the oak tree in the acorn more often

I would be firm less often and affirm much more

I'd model less about the love of power

And more about the power of love.

Diane Loomans

It is never too late to start being present with your child and giving your child the gift of this kind of interaction. It takes some effort for a parent to let go of these other thoughts, but with practice this living 'in the now' can become more and more part of your life.

How to Begin being Present

One way to start is by focusing on your breathing. You can do this right now. I want you to take a deep breath, filling your lungs and then slowly letting the air back out. Notice how once you consider your breathing you start breathing slower and deeper, sensing this breathing helps you to feel more present by thinking about your body. If there is a plant in the room try looking at the plant for 10 seconds; this will help you become more aware of your surroundings and connecting with what is around you. These are simple techniques that quickly and effortlessly bring you into the present. You can continue breathing and sensing yourself and your environment. This is not difficult and just takes making the choice to do it.

Now that you can do this for yourself you can apply this method to the time you spend with your child. The next time you are with your child you can begin by focusing on what you are doing in the moment. If you are reading a book to them, focus on the book and the child, letting go of any other thoughts. If you are talking to your child, focus only on this discussion. Notice as much as you can about your child, including what they are saying, their energy and their tone as well as your own reaction. You can practice this in small ways and it can grow from there. It is not possible to always be present with your child since life has many demands. When you are present, in the moment with your child, you will be handing down the best legacy of all, which is all of you.

Comments

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    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile imageAUTHOR

      Tracy Lynn Conway 

      6 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Melovy,

      What you have said about our brain waves in regards to breathing makes so much sense. I think short breathing (not breathing deeply) is connected to the "fight or flight" repsonse which is related to stress. Deep slower breathing is the way out of this stress related reaction. Thank you very much for your great comment and for sharing this hub.

      Best,

      Tracy

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 

      6 years ago from UK

      What you say here about being with some one who clearly isn’t paying attention is a great way to bring the message home to people - to help them think about it from a child’s perspective. Of course, as you say, it’s not possible for us to always be fully focused on what’s here right now, because often our thoughts intrude.

      I find that your suggestions to be aware of breathing or the physical surroundings is a good way to bring attention away from busy thoughts. I read recently that deep breathing actually changes our brain waves from beta (busy) to alpha (calmer.) So breathing is not just a distraction from anxious thoughts, it actually helps dispel them.

      My kids are older now and can get caught up in their own anxious thoughts and I’ve noticed the effect of focusing on what’s here right now for them too. We often do it at bedtime.

      A great hub. Voted up and shared.

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile imageAUTHOR

      Tracy Lynn Conway 

      7 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Cheerfulnuts, Thank you so much! That really is a touching poem. Being 'in the now' is a great skill for people of all ages to learn.

      HennieN, Thank you! Children do learn by example, we have so much power to equip them with skills like this, it doesn't take much time, but really just the knowledge. These are universal skills that can benefit us all. I am so glad you liked this hub.

    • HennieN profile image

      HennieN 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Exclellent hub. Children learn by what they see. If we are not focusing, concentarting when they talk to us, what are they learning?

      Funny thing is this is great advice, not just when working with your kids.

    • cheerfulnuts profile image

      cheerfulnuts 

      7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Great tip from you Tracy. I'll apply this not only to my future kids, but also to everyone important to me. By the way, I like the poem. It's perfect for this excellent hub.:)

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile imageAUTHOR

      Tracy Lynn Conway 

      7 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Thank you so much for your compliments, you just made my day! You are right, as a parent it is so easy to loose sight of what is really important.

    • Andi Hall profile image

      Andi Hall 

      7 years ago from The Ozarks of Missouri

      I love this Hub! You are a talented writer and bring home a very important message. I adore my kids and need to be reminded of what's really important. You hit it out of the park with this one. Thanks!

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile imageAUTHOR

      Tracy Lynn Conway 

      7 years ago from Virginia, USA

      thougtforce,

      I am glad you liked the advice, Thank you! Yes, it is a very good poem, my daughter even liked it, so it must be really good. You make an excellent observation about these moments also being the ones that are most memorable! Thank you for your complements, I really appreciate them!

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 

      7 years ago from Sweden

      Very good advices! I love the "if I had my child to rise over again" each sentence is so beautiful. I find myself doing this from time to time in the daily rush and realize that I am not present in the now. But the moments that I am present with my child are so valuable and are often the ones that stay in my memory. This article is very well and wonderfully put together. Thanks for the reminder!

      Voted up!Tina

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