I was reflecting on how children notice and pay attention. I wanted to share with you not just the principle but how much this is a guiding light for me in my parenting. It’s as good as any insight or cadence as to the energy I put into helping families learn the skills to see them break their limiting beliefs.
And it starts with my fundamental belief that everything matters.
I think the little nuances and subtleties which we as adults somehow shortcut, or perhaps ignore, mean a lot to children. They notice these things; they become aware of these things. So I really believe everything matters. This isn’t a new theme. I’ve written before about being present, about giving our full attention and undistracted time, and how this means so much more to them then we realise.
And if we can accept that, we then have to accept that everything means something to them.
An example happened only recently. I was putting my daughter to bed and she asked me if I could clean her trainers for school the next day. My immediate response was that I couldn’t. That I’d had a long day and had a number of other things to do that evening and realistically I wouldn’t get a chance to do it. Which she seemed ok with.
But I walked away from that conversation not feeling great about my answer. Was that really the case? What actually did I have to do for her? And how much impact would it realistically have on my evening?
Now, there may be many of you who respond with why are you doing that? Why placate her? She needs to accept that it can’t be done. That would be fine for me if there was no way I could achieve it. However I soon realised that I could forgo a couple of things or find some workarounds and get the trainers cleaned.
I know I didn’t clean them just because I could make it happen. It was more that I want to be the parent that does those kind of things. To be able for her to look back and to notice that dad went the extra bit more. I want to be the parent that can make those minor sacrifices that have a major impact on how my children feel. I think it matters.
Fobbing a child off with an excuse or half reason isn’t something I want to make a habit of. I want to demonstrate that no matter how busy you are, you can do a little bit more. That’s why I do these little things.
I also believe that she notices it. That it does go in her mind. She’ll wake up. They’ll be clean and she’ll be happy. Maybe it’s subtle and simple but it’ll be noticed by her. She’ll be aware of it. Maybe in 20 years time she won’t remember that particular moment, but the consistency of how I behave and how I do that extra 5%,10% more, means a lot to me but also will mean a lot to her too.
To round off the story, the next day she returned from school with the trainers even dirtier than before. I truly had no time to wash them again. An hour or so later, I find her in the laundry room cleaning them herself. I believe it’s very important to be aware that children do notice these little changes and the things we do for them.
So I come back to that point: I believe children do notice everything and it will mean something to them. As I’ve said in the past, their worlds are smaller than ours. They notice the differences and the nuances and the subtleties which we with our larger worlds can ignore too quickly. So I leave you with this, next time, if you have the chance, go a little bit further, do that little bit more. And just notice how it feels for you and for them.