Many of us are feeling overwhelmed with the list of things to do for the holidays, and this feeling is only exacerbated by the little time we have to check off our list. As you go into or taper off of a holiday season, keep this in mind: what our children really want from us is time, patience and true engagement.
Children want our undivided attention. Take time out of your day to play a game with your child. It need not be complex; it could be simple as an “I Spy” game in the car on your way to your next holiday party. Or, better yet, spend your time in the car singing familiar family or songs. It will make your way to grandma’s house for dinner much more enjoyable.
Parents get so rushed with buying (and returning) gifts, holiday baking, and attending social gatherings that we often don’t take time to pause and capture the moment. Our children are growing right before our eyes, and we don’t want to look back and be unable to recall the twinkle in their eye when they made their first Play-Doh ® creation, or when they climbed to the top of the stairs without our help. Notice and make specific, encouraging comments about your child’s work, or take the extra five minutes out of your day to watch and observe your child’s everyday achievements.
Don’t just say, “yeah” – mean it! Get involved in your children’s play. Let them lead as you follow. As you do this, remember what it was like to be child at play. Recall the enjoyment and pleasure you felt when adults joined and helped you bake a “pretend” pizza, or make a snowman, or build a fort in the living room.
Give your child or the children in your classroom something special. Take the time to listen, be patient as children work on their list of things to do and truly engage in the moment. Throughout it all, remember what children really want from us during this busy season is our time, patience and engagement!