I find the whole concept of “being present” for another person so relevant to our world. How many of us have not really been given sufficient presence by our parents while we were growing up or even by other influential adults that helped to shape our lives?
There really is so much to be said for looking another person in the eye and just listening to what they are saying no matter what their age. “I hear you,” “I hold this safe space for you,” and “You matter” are the subliminal messages of this action, and it feeds a person’s soul on a deep level.
When we do this with our children, we are teaching them that they are important and deserve to be heard. They then can learn from a very early age that the most important people in their life — their parents, who hold so much power in influencing their self esteem — really do care about how they feel about things and what they have to say. We just have to hold the space for them to do that.
Since my son is a preschooler, this skill is becoming ever increasingly more valuable to our family. He wants to talk to us more often now about many different thoughts he has, and both my husband and I try to always look him in the eye and either hold him or sit next to him or play toys with him while he is speaking, or if he was off in another room, making sure to enter into that same room with him.
Giving him direct attention while he is speaking about something really makes him feel so validated, and it boosts his confidence in himself. I try to recap what he has said each time to let him know that Mommy understood his thoughts and ideas. He then usually goes on into greater detail on the topic, because he knows that I listened to him and he feels so happy about it and wants to share more with me.
We have started teaching him about how when another person is talking, we all need to pay attention to that person just like we paid attention to him when he was speaking. It seems to be getting through to him as I’ve seen him give this kind of presence and respect to both of us and even to some friends lately.
To me, this is one of the most important life skills a person needs to develop to live in harmony with the world around them. Not only do our children need to be given presence, but we all must give presence and respect to each other and be the example of this for the younger generations to emulate.
Editor’s note: Melissa formerly wrote about sustainability, green living, alternative health, nutrition, parenting and life in general at Nature Deva.net