“I look for opportunities throughout the day to engage my child.”
“As I go through my day, I try to be aware of moments when my child and I can do something together.”
As parents we often get stuck or caught up in the thought or belief that all child’s play should be… well, play. That could be furthest from the truth and I’m not talking about education. Child’s play could be considered a time to engage parent and child and build a bond that creates memories that will live in your child’s mind for years. I remember making homemade tortillas with my grandma. I loved the moment when she turned on the stove and brought out the masa and started rolling tortillas. I love to help her with my weak arms (this was hard work) and she never complained about my little tortillas compared to her large, well rolled, tortillas. The truth is it didn’t matter how they ended up because they were good no matter what. My grandma was on to something. What mattered was the moments spent together. Those moments turned out to be so incredibly important for both of us. As my grandma aged and her mind soon turned to dementia there was something special happening and I would like to think that it was because of those moments shared. My grandma never forgot me. When she could not remember anyone else she always knew me. When she could barely talk she could say my name. You are probably wondering what this has to do with your child and I think the point will become clear soon.
Memories are golden. Memories are created through interactions that your brain stores for future use. These memories frequently referred to as episodic memories are the reason for future growth and those wonderful aha moments you have. Memories are wonderful for us as adults but they are critical for a child’s brain development. There is no memory stronger than the one created with an attachment to emotion. These are the memories we remember most vividly. So, why are memories and shared moments important for your child? They create moments for future use. They create opportunity for aha moments and discovery. They create emotions that we cannot explain but push us forward in growth. Memories are critical!
So today, as you go through your day make yourself aware of moments when you and your child can share something. Making a favorite meal. Cleaning up an accident together instead of getting upset. Sharing in a dance to your favorite most wild song. Anything can be a moment. Anything can build a memory. Use your day to your advantage and start building. Your child will never go back and think that they wish they had more time alone. They will never wish they did not have those fun memories. So, how can you make anything into a memory or a moment spent together? The formula is simple… you and your child plus identified roles within your skill set. What? No I’m not going crazy. If you are working together to clean the windows and you know your child is great at the spray bottle… well then they will spray while you wipe… don’t forget to sprinkle in some fun with silly faces or noises while you wipe. If you are pulling the weeds and your kiddo loves to pull things… well he can pull while you hold the bag. If he gets tired try switching roles but never forget the fun. I know that right now you are thinking, that is all fine and dandy but my child has autism and he/she cannot do that… well surprise yourself. It may not be something that happens over night but with time you can create a meaningful moment because your child can learn and will engage if you allow the time. Don’t overwhelm with demands and questions. Silence and pausing can be your best friend. Allow your child to discover for himself that the weeds go in the bag you are holding. It may not start out perfect but it will grow as will your relationship and memories. Give it a try and don’t give up on yourself. Today, find one thing that you can do with your child. It can last seconds but it will be something you did together. Tomorrow find another and continue until it is part of your routine and change that something everyday. Build lasting memories for your child.
You can purchase the entire set of Parent Success Cards at http://www.horizonsdrc.com. Please feel free to post questions, comments, moments you would like to share, or anything else below. You can also email me privately at GuidedSpectrum@gmail.com