I was recently walking on the bike paths of near my home and was struck by the number of parents who are pushing strollers and engaged in conversation on their cell phones. I have almost become immune to it until several days ago, I actually saw a Mom pushing a stroller and engaging in conversation with her toddler. I wanted to run up and give her a hug.
Why are we all so busy that we seem to think that our conversation on the cell phones is more important than engaging in conversation with our children and teaching them about their surroundings? Why do we choose cell phone conversation over eye contact with our children?
All parents want to provide their child the best possible education. Many people think of early childhood education as the function of preschool. Yes, a school setting can introduce and encourage social skills, but going for a walk with your child can be another kind of learning experience. You might just be trying to get exerecise or fresh air, but your child is taking in the environment with all of her senses. Your child is seeing, hearing, feeling and smelling all of it and much more. Your child is aware! She needs someone to give these items names and validate her experience. It may be tempting to use the walk with your chld as a time to catch up on phone calls and take care of some business, but next time, try turning off your phone and focusing on your child. Point out the sights, sounds and smells in your surrounds and in a simple way, explain what they mean. Add the sense of touch by slowing down enough to allow him to touch a flower or leaf, or if she can walk, let him out of the stroller to touch the "touchables". To a young child the world is magical and fascinating. Even the most mundane elements are exciting!
This also applies to your time in the car, as well. Besides the safety issues, there is a wealth of learning to be done in the car. Car seats place the young child high enough to see out of the window. Imagine what your child thinks when a tractor trailer or a garbage truck rolls by. There are so many things to see such as, traffic lights, fire trucks, ambulances and police cars. Time in the car is is a good time to sing songs together or just listen to your favorite tunes. Consider this a bonus of time that you can spend with your chld.
What is the benefit of turning off your cell phone and focusing on your chld?
The result of positive, sharing, parent-child communication is the strengthening of the relationship. Your child will know that she is important to you. This provides her security and self-reliance. You are also performing the act of teaching. You are the window to her world. As you introduce, describe and explain her world, you are enriching her life. You are your child's first and most important teacher. The memories you create with your child are worth far more than the phone call you might miss. Enjoy your child and make wonderful memories!