There is a difference between being with our child, and being fully WITH them. One is about being in proximity, and the other is being present – tuned in and focused on them, and only them. The first tends to come easily, and it does have its value. But we also have to ensure that ‘full attention’ times happen, because, even if brief, they have a BIG impact on our tamariki.
These moments connect us, and act as a recharge for our child. Our engaged attention acts as a straight-to-the-heart ‘deposit’, filling them up with energy and confidence. It puts them on a ‘high’ again, satisfied and secure.
Sometimes the words ‘full attention’ panic us as they’re misinterpreted as being a full time expectation. But we can exhale. That’s not it at all. It’s not realistic, but it’s also not what our tamariki are seeking. They want to be close with us AND they want to move away. They want to explore the world with us, AND solo.
The ‘with us’ time is the charging station that allows them to then be successful in their independent quests. A ‘full’ child is happy to go off and play, to follow their own ideas and potter about. And after a time, they’ll be heading for ‘empty’ again, and need another ‘deposit’ from us. If we recognise that this is the rhythm of it, we can relax and enjoy the connected times as well, knowing we will still get time for ‘our things’. We can see the beauty of the balance, the time with us and without.
We aren’t a permanent parking spot for our tamariki, but a pit stop, a place for them to come and rest in our love and then move off again. In a gentle way, relationship and resilience are developing hand in hand.
It’s not about scheduling these ’fully with’ times in the calendar, though sometimes of course we plan some special together-time. It’s about letting the child signal to us when it’s ‘charge time’, and responding – as close to that time as we can, and with our ‘all’. We don’t need to prepare specific activities, just be prepared to give them our presence.