The book ‘The Four Needs of the Heart‘ aims to prepare a child for the arrival of a sibling, while at the same time is a beautifully illustrated reminder of the four key elements that unlock the positive potential in every child and are what is at the foundation of healthy human relationships. Over the next little while, each need will be discussed in an aim to further expand understanding. I’m starting with Attention:
ATTENTION! – we all need to sit up and take note of this need of the heart! As parents, it is easy to be getting on with a multitude of tasks when our kids are around. Life is busy – but your kids need YOU time. They need to sometimes have your undivided attention. They also need you to enjoy them and enjoy doing things with them. Paying attention also helps you tune in to your child and register whether your child is hungry, tired, upset, in pain, needing a cuddle, cold, sick, etc.
This may sound like common sense, but these days we, as a society, are so distracted! Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2008, our attention is more often than not being pulled towards that little screen. Computer screens, iPads, TV’s – all these screens are taking our attention. But our children need us to connect with them and to really see them. Not just our children – but our friends and family and people we come into contact with during our day. We can give others the simple gift of really giving them our undivided attention. That means really tuning in and focussing on the other, showing interest, listening deeply – not just to their words, but to their feelings and state of mind behind the words. It’s connecting with our eyes, ears and our heart. It’s being really present with the other – not multi-tasking while the other shares their day; not half there while you check your phone. We all need our loved ones to bear witness to our lives.
Of course – we can’t and shouldn’t do this all the time either. Parents don’t want to be ‘attending’ to their children 24/7 because that also is not healthy. We don’t want to be ‘hovering’ over them like the helicopter parents of today have been accused of doing. Children also need alone time, time to be outside in nature, time to make and build and imagine, time playing on their own and with other children. They also learn so much from observing you and need to see their adults capably and happily getting on with the daily chores that help provide them with a warm and safe environment and nutritious food on their plate. Become aware if your attention is going too much to the screens, as this will be making you distracted and time-poor to do the tasks around you that help make your home a happy one. Screen time is robbing us all of time. This then means we are rushing more to get things done, feeling more stressed and cutting corners where we shouldn’t, not to mention what we are modelling to them.
And for children – in order for them to be effective learners they must be able to attend and focus by engaging their senses. Take care to nurture the development of these senses appropriately and subtly – not through over stimulation or over intellectualising. Provide them with age appropriate experiences. If they do too much too soon – there is nothing for them to look forward to. Nurture their powers of observation. They need to be able to focus and tune in to their environment not just with their eyes and ears, but feelings as well. They need to learn to tune in to themselves – observing how they feel in different environments – to listen to their own sense of right and wrong. Being able to attend is a vital life skill.
You can purchase a copy of the book ‘The Four Needs of the Heart’ via the shop on The Art of Transition’s website. This would make a wonderful gift for any family, especially those that are growing!
Creating a better planet through emotionally healthy people.