"Hey, Mommy. Look over here! I need you! The grass is very itchy and I don't like it!"
I am on a plane as I write this blog. I was in the security line at 5:15 this morning and I desperately needed caffeine to wake up. By the time I was through security, there was no time to buy a soda before boarding, because there were at least ten people ahead of me in the line. I convinced myself that I could wait for the free beverage cart as soon as the plane was in the air. However, when the flight attendants came by with beverages, apparently I was invisible to them when they stopped by our row. I waved my hand in the air several times but they would not look my way. What really bothered me was that the passengers in the row across the isle saw me waving my hand. They could have told the attendant, as she gave them their beverages, that a passenger in the row across from them needed something. I was frustrated but rather than press the call button, I gave up. I know this is a trivial example, but I describe it because of the frustration I felt being ignored. I could only imagine how I would feel if I were a child. That's what prompted me to write this blog.
I am sure we have all watched small children in similar situations. First I hear "Mama," about fifteen times, increasing in volume with each one--with no reaction. What is a child to do? Well he can slip into oblivion as I did on the airplane, or he can do something else to get attention. Usually it is to throw a full blown fit, or haul off and hit his mother. And it is only when the fussing escalates to the point that it interrupts whatever the parent is doing, that the child gets attention. However, the attention he gets now is not what he wanted! Now he is in trouble!
All of the screaming, and eventually the screaming back in response, is unnecessary if we have the presence to respond. It could be as simple as, "I hear you, but you will have to wait a minute. Come and sit by me until I'm finished. There. Now, can I help you?"
As an adult, it feels terrible when you have something important you would like to say, and you are dismissed like an overlooked child tugging and tugging on his mother's pant leg. Let us be more watchful and willing to look for, and recognize attempts to communicate by both children and adults. Turn off all electronic devices and watch your children. How many times do you see them look to you to make sure you are watching? How many times do you see them searching around for help? How many times do you hear them calling your name? How many times do you see a situation that could soon mean trouble?
What do you do in these situations? What is the secret? What do you do when your children look to you to make sure you are watching? Say, "Mommy sees you. You are playing nicely with the farm animals." What do you do when you see them searching for help? Say, "Do you need help? Come over here. I will help you. You could say, 'Tie my shoes, please.'" What do you do when you hear them call your name? Say, "I hear you. I will be there in a minute." What do you do when you see trouble brewing? Say, "It looks like you guys are having a problem. Can you tell me what is going on?"
The secret is simple. Be mindful, and give your attention to the children and people around you. You may be missing many opportunities to respond to your children, family, and friends. Be a thoughtful and responsive communicator!
©Karen K Rossi, 2018. Learn To Talk Around The Clock®