Today is National Be Heard Day, a holiday for small businesses and entrepreneurs to make their presence known in a world of large corporations, popular brands and big box stores. The goal is to help the small guys “be heard” when it feels as though no one is listening. I would like to relate this idea to the elementary school-age child.
Do you ever feel that your child is not listening? You ask her to clean up her room, help with the dishes, or even questions about her day without much of a response? Let’s shake things up! Since the most important topic in someone’s life is themselves, we’ll use this idea to gently enter your child’s world.
Grab a ball that you can bounce or pass between one another. State the rules of, “The person who is holding the ball gets to tell and/or show something they are good at.” This may be an event from earlier in the day that your child describes, such as, “When Mrs. T asked me to stop writing, I put my pencil down right away.”
The key is to honor what your child describes and give a positive, heartfelt response that confirms how significant the child and her behavior choices are. For example, “Wow Mia – that’s great! When you followed her direction right away, I bet that made both of you feel really good!” Then have her pass the ball to you and you do the same by sharing something good about yourself.
If you’re at a loss to describe an event from the day, do a fun yoga balancing pose or bendy-twisting movement and watch how impressed your child is. During my in-home therapy sessions, I find they often clap when I’m done! Keep up this turn-taking activity until both of you have shared at least five special things.
Doing playful activities that engage your child emotionally strengthens your relationship and makes room in the day for “small guys” to feel heard. Caution – you may find immediate results of smiling, laughing together and easy, enjoyable interactions! Watch for signs of her paying more attention and following directions without any of the usual nagging.