Eye Contact, Communication and Being Human – Parent ALERT

Remember the days when we were worried about mommy and daddy being glued to the television and not connecting with their children??  Well, the television is looking tame compared with the many forms of computers now, especially smart phones and computers, even laptops.  If your laptop is on your lap, where can your child go?  If you’re lined up in front of your desktop computer, does your child have to snuggle up to your back?

The Child Development Institute has guidelines that are perfect for learning how to raise a psychologically healthy child:

Basic Principles of Good Parent/Child Communication

  • Let the child know that you are interested and involved and that you will help when needed.
  • Turn off the television (computer, smart phone [ed]) or put the newspaper down when your child wants to converse.
  • Avoid taking a telephone call when the child has something important to tell you.
  • Unless other people are specifically meant to be included, hold conversations in privacy. The best communication between you and the child will occur when others are not around.
  • Embarrassing the child or putting him on the spot in front of others will lead only to resentment and hostility, not good communication.
  • Don’t tower over your child. Physically get down to the child’s level then talk.
  • If you are very angry about a behavior or an incident, don’t attempt communication until you regain your cool, because you cannot be objective until then. It is better to stop, settle down, and talk to the child later.
  • If you are very tired, you will have to make an extra effort to be an active listener. Genuine active listening is hard work and is very difficult when your mind and body are already tired.
  • Listen carefully and politely. Don’t interrupt the child when he is trying to tell his story. Be as courteous to your child as you would be to your best friend.
  • Don’t be a wipe-out artist, unraveling minor threads of a story and never allowing the child’s own theme to develop. This is the parent who reacts to the incidentals of a message while the main idea is list: i.e., the child starts to tell about what happened and the parent says, “I don’t care what they are doing, but you had better not be involved in anything like that.”
  • Don’t ask why, but do ask what happened.
  • If you have knowledge of the situation, confront the child with the information that you know or have been told.
  • Keep adult talking (“You’ll talk when I’m finished.” “I know what’s best for you.” “Just do what I say and that will solve the problem”), preaching and moralizing to a minimum because they are not helpful in getting communication open and keeping it open.
  • Don’t use put-down words or statements: dumb, stupid, lazy: “Stupid, that makes no sense at all” or “What do you know, you’re just a child.”
  • Assist the child in planning some specific steps to the solution.
  • Show that you accept the child himself, regardless of what he has or has not done.
  • Reinforce the child for keeping communication open. Do this by accepting him and praising his efforts to communicate.

The site continues with a really fabulous list of positive reinforcement vocabulary to use with children.  It’s important to correct your children (and follow through with discipline), but your positive reinforcement, that is, catching them when they’re doing anything that you can praise them for, should outweigh criticism about  five times to one. It’s really hard to catch them doing anything if you’re glued to the computer  🙂

I think that children today aren’t getting their quota of hugging, warmth, eye contact, personal time – bonding.  I fear that they’ll grow up with even less idea of how to parent the next generation.  My husband and I met in a Psychology of Childhood Development class … it’s been taught way back then, back further, and now, that children set out who they’ll be in the first few years of their lives.  How we parent, for good or bad, is the biggest influence during that time.

So, if you have to use your computer for work or “visiting,” why not wait until the kids are in bed, or make yourself a schedule – bury your gadgets with a towel so you don’t see the screens.  If you show self-discipline, you will be teaching that to your children.  If you can’t break the addiction, they’ll do the same in their own lives.

See  Harry Chapin’s Cat’s in the Cradle … it was written by Harry and his wife, about their son, Josh. Chapin said about the message, “Frankly this song scares me to death.”

My child arrived just the other day,
He came to the world in the usual way,
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay,
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talking ‘fore I knew it and as he grew
He’d say I’m gonna be like you, Dad
You know I’m gonna be like you

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you coming home dad, I don’t know when,
But we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then

My son turned ten just the other day,
He said thanks for the ball, dad, come on let’s play
Can you teach me to throw, I said not today
I got a lot to do, he said that’s OK
And he, He walked away, but his smile never did, and said
I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you coming home dad, I don’t know when,
But we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then

Well, he came from college just the other day,
So much like a man, I just had to say
Son, I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while
He shook his head, and he said with a smile
What I’m feeling like, dad, is to borrow the car keys
See ya later, can I have them, please

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you coming home son, I don’t know when,
But we’ll get together then, dad
You know we’ll have a good time then

I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said I’d like to see you if you don’t mind
He said I’d love to dad, if I could find the time
You see my new job’s a hassle, and the kids have the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you

And as I hung up the phone, it occured to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you coming home son, I don’t know when,
But we’ll get together then, dad
We’re gonna have a good time then

All the best – let me know how it’s going.  Believe me – bonding with your children in your best vaccination against wild, out-of-control teens who can’t wait to be away from home and into trouble.

About Margo

Margo Linder has over 24 years experience helping clients (http://betterhealth-fast.com) gain better health with her products. She is a busy mother of ten (19 - 39) and grandmother of seventeen, who enjoys reading, sewing painting and interior design. Margo writes as if passing on bits of information to her very large family of children, their spouses and grandchildren - and anyone else who might be listening. She will explore how small life changes (tweaks) will make a huge difference to enjoyment of life and general well-being. The World Health Organization defines health in terms of complete physical, social and mental/psychological well-being. So this is about the "whole" person. She emphasizes that she is not a health professional or scientist, but offers food-for-thought from life experience, her health business and their scientists, her own research and common sense.
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One Response to Eye Contact, Communication and Being Human – Parent ALERT

  1. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

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