The state of being distracted, mental distress or derangement, that which divides attention, or prevents concentration.
Is any one with me here? I feel like mid-October hits and with it comes a barrage of distraction. Being a family on an academic calendar this fall has been particularly “distracting”. In the past month I have given and graded midterms, Bobby has completed his fall quarter and passed Greek (YAY!), we have had Octoberfest, Halloween, visits from family, a new contract with my old job, a launch of my parent consulting business AND, oh yeah, I have two small children to who I am the primary caregiver. Did you see any problem with that list . . . I have been so distracted with my to-do’s that my children have been put somewhere on the back burner (and thus my blogging as well).
I feel bad about this. It goes against my core beliefs as a C-3 Parent. As I was thinking through this over the past few days, I stumbled upon a video from my dear friend and mentor Dr. Karyn Purvis. I would invite you to listen to her words regarding being present with your child.
Its funny that along with being a problem for parents because of our own mental distress and derangement, distraction is actually a wonderful parenting tool as well. It is another one of the tools (like time-out) that I think is misunderstood and used improperly. We tend to use distraction for infants and toddlers: “No, don’t put the keys in your mouth, here is a toy”. We use the T.V. as a great distractor when we need to get things done “You can watch one movie while I . . . .”. We try to distract our children from seeing the candy and toys in the check out lane. But these are all such passive and reactionary uses of a great parenting and teaching tool. The truth is, using distraction can be a wonderful way for us to engage and connect with our children.
My Cady is trouble…and I mean that in the kindest of ways. She gets into things, she wants to be a part of the action, when I say no she does it faster, harder or louder. She is a spitfire. As such, distraction is a primary way I can connect wither her and encourage positive behaviors. This morning Cady wanted to turn off the T.V. Really she just wanted to push some buttons. A passive approach to distraction would have been to give her a toy and lead her away from the T.V. An active approach would be to get down next to her, say “wow, those buttons are neat”, and walk with her in the other room to find another toy with buttons. At this point we sit down and talk about pushing buttons and that they turn things on and off, make noises, and even play music. Next time she wants to push a button she knows where to go.
I know this takes more time, it doesn’t really just get my child out of my way and keep them from getting in trouble BUT it meets there need to connect, it allows for exploration and learning, and it promotes positive behavior through coaching. Cady will keep pushing buttons (literally and figuratively) but I hope that I can gently guide her to understand which buttons are appropriate to push and which ones can only be pushed with permission. I don’t want to squelch her interest with distraction, I want to guide her.
I have to acknowledge that I am a blackberry carrying mom, my MacBook is open and read to go most hours of the day, and I, sadly, allow the T.V. to be on way to often in my home. I don’t want to be a distracted and reactive mom. I want to be connected and proactive with my children.
Join me this week in unplugging at least ONE HOUR every day this week. Email me or post back how it went.