Do you sometimes feel torn between work and your children? Like you’re not giving 100% to either? Do you worry about whether you are doing a good enough job bonding with your little ones since so much of what you do when you are with them is focused on catering to their physical needs?
Well it’s time you relax and stop being so hard on yourself. It’s very likely that are doing more than you realise to have a positive impact on your child’s emotional wellbeing.
Simply interacting with your children mindfully when you are with them is teaching them so many important social and emotional skills. These are the skills that are vital for them to develop in order for them to grow into well functioning human beings in this social world.
Undoubtedly, though, it is easy to forget this especially when we are away from them at work and experiencing a moment of guilt. In these moments we are at risk of getting caught up in what we think we should be doing more of. Common catalysts for us ‘should-ing’ are the times we hear colleagues talking about the accomplishments of their children and what they are doing that our children aren’t, or when we hear of the amount of time stay-at-home parents are spending with their children.
When this happens, we start to question ourselves and so the negative inner dialogue begins: “I should have, I should have, I should have.”
At this point it’s important to recognise the pursuit of being ‘perfect’ tends to take away from what your children really need socially and emotionally which is what your children get from quality interactions with you.
Your child’s true needs can be met by ordinary care for their physical needs and making sure the time that you do spend with your child is loving, devoted and responsive. When it comes to the development of their vitally important social and emotional skill-sets, it really is a matter of quality rather than quantity.
When you have moments of ‘angst’ that you are not doing enough or being good enough in some way, please remember that the definition of getting ‘it’ right includes things that you are already doing with your kids. Things like smiling, singing, talking, cuddling, looking into their eyes, supporting them, sitting with them, including them, being silly with them, saying to them ‘I love you’, being accepting of their ‘negative’ emotions as well as their positive, and even managing your own emotional outbursts.
Working doesn’t mean you stop being able to parent in ways that, from a child’s perspective, really matter. So forget the guilt and start thinking about all the positive things you do for your kids.
Things that really matter:
- By encouraging our children to say ‘sorry’ and by knowing when to say sorry ourselves, we are teaching them how to maintain positive relationships with others.
- In mindfully sitting, singing, reading, and generally interacting with our child we are connecting with them. Their experience is that we are noticing them, enjoying them and spending time with them. From these types of interactions, they learn that they are worthwhile, valid, fun to be around, and this is vital to their developing sense of self.
- By managing our own emotional reactions (which is sometimes easier said than done), we are teaching our kids how to manage their emotions, including how to bring about calm when required.