This month, I’m bringing back a message I wrote before I had a blog. It’s from September, 2013. . .
Recently, one of my favorite quotes came across my desk and inspired my message today. Here it is:
“Be where you are, otherwise you will miss your life.” — Buddha (paraphrased by Jack Kornfield)
I love the meaning and have changed it a bit for my purposes:
“Be where you are, otherwise you will turn around in the grocery check-out line and discover that your son, while only 13, is now taller than you are and you may have been missing out on the joy and wonder of your own children!”
OK, yes, my kids are not always a joy to have around. Sometimes, just the opposite. And, sometimes my own running list of to do’s, my busy schedule, and worries about work or what to cook for dinner simply block out the joy that is here for me right where I am, right now.
So the parenting tool I’m sharing this month is about being present, and it’s called a “GEM.” I learned it from a “Redirecting Children’s Behavior” class I took many years ago and it has stuck with me ever since.
A GEM is about being present, mindful, and truly engaged with your child. It is a “Genuine Encounter Moment,” and need only take a literal moment but the investment of full attention, on your child, in that moment, can pay off big time.
The pay off comes in many forms:
- You get a moment to really connect with and enjoy your child.
- Your child learns that s/he is important enough to be listened to.
- From your example, your child learns how to really listen.
- And you are filling your child’s basic needs for belonging and significance.
When a child feels belonging (connection) and significance (importance) in your home, your church, school, or community, s/he will not need look so hard for it elsewhere: in unhealthy peer relationships, not-so-great on-line communities, gangs, alcohol, etc. Plus s/he will have less need to “act out” in the form of whining or power struggles, etc. in order to regain these basic needs.
So how does a GEM work? Next time your child comes to you with something to say, stop what you’re doing, get down at her level, and give her your full attention. Really listen, without judgment, and get into her world until the moment is complete.
What if you just can’t give your child a GEM in the moment? Acknowledge your child’s feelings, and set a time when you can give her your attention: “I really want to hear what you have to say but I have to take this call. Give me 10 minutes and don’t forget what you want to tell me!” Then be sure to follow through.
What happens when you use GEMs? Please comment below.
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