For 23 years, I evaluated little kids, medium kids and big kids. No matter their age or the reason for them being in my office, one thing was made very clear to them from the beginning...we were working together, with each other. It was not a process being done to them or for them. We were a team.
This was a new concept to most of "my kids". They were so accustomed to being told what to do and having things done to them or for them. They didn't trust me. Why should they?
It wasn't until they spent several appointments with me that had confidence that I would keep my agreements. What were those agreements? That if they had "had it" before the 90 minutes was up, they could leave or we could play board games or listen to music until their parent came for them. I would give them 5 options as to which task they wanted to start with--reading, math, writing, drawing designs, answering questions about how they felt about events in life. When that task was done, we'd move "down the menu".
There were quite a few "stacks of stuff" around my chair as I juggled their attention span and their motivational levels. I had to be prepared. Jeff thought he wanted to start out with math today, but it wasn't the kind of math he was expecting and he wanted to bail. He did. I let him.
If they arrived at my office and looked beaten up, I'd talk with them about "what" was going on. Some appointments, no testing happened. Then, there was the teenager who flew through my door on fire, practically, His mother made him come even when his friends were going to Magic Mountain. I made them leave. It's my agreement that if they had something fun to do, they could blow me off and come back the next weekend. Why test them when their brains wouldn't be in the game? The test results would be invalid. Get out.
Oh sure, during these activities, of course, we are in their presences, but how much are we with them? Not much. Why? Because our interactions are goal-oriented. We've got a purpose and we set about getting it done. They're fed. They're bathed. They have clean clothes and sheets. We check off the "to do" list every time we've completed one chore.
However, we get so caught up in raising them, that we don't consistently work on having a relationship with them.
And then, surprise, surprise! When they get to be teenagers, they drift away. They won't share with us or talk with us. If you plant corn, don't expect to harvest tomatoes!
Even if it's 10 minutes a day, sit with your kid. Play card games, pick-up-sticks, dominoes, checkers, tic-tac-toe, hangman. Watch something hilarious and laugh together. Teach them that they can trust you. Teach them that you are genuinely there with them going through this life experience together. Or just be quiet and read together. No devices, please. That just shuts out any chance of a meaningful interaction. Make pudding together.
I encourage the parents of elementary-age kids to have a pajama day. Everyone gets off the hamster wheel and spends time together, with each other, for just one day. Have ice cream for breakfast and cookies for lunch. Be goofy and laugh. Once elementary school is over, it's nearly impossible to have this kind of time again.
I don't want any of us to miss out on the with for the sake of the to and for.
Just a thought. TTFN, Claudia
Joni me on Facebook at Dr. Claudia McCulloch