Ready to reconnect
As a responsive parent, I have a strong connection with my children. Now that my son is in school we are separate for long parts the day. By the of the day I cannot wait to reconnect. However, every day that I pick my son up from school, I’m excited to see him, to hear about his day, to share his worries and his delights. I wait eagerly in the school playground with all the other parents. I wait for him to emerge from the door and run to me, as excited to see me as I am to see him.
And you know what? it never happens.
Don’t get me wrong, he sees me and smiles a huge smile as if to say “I’ve seen you mum”. But, then he runs off to play with his friends. He loves spending time straight after school playing on the school playground. He not only loves it, he needs it. He needs to run around after a long day at school. It is essential for him to disperse some of the energy that has built up inside him. He needs to enjoy the freedom of no longer being in school for that day.
So, I wait, holding onto his school bag, knowing that I am meeting his needs over mine just now. I think to myself “it’s okay, we can talk and reconnect in the car”.
Once he’s done running that energy off and we get in the car, he barely breathes a word to me. His only answer to my questions about school is “I don’t want to talk about it, I need silence”. I used to wonder why. Why wasn’t he telling me about his day? Why he wasn’t excited to see me? Was he unhappy? But now I understand.
I have realised that he feels safe in my presence to tell me he needs space. He needs that space and time to calm down after a long day at school. He needs to be quiet after having to talk to people all day. His brain can’t handle more conversation just yet. The demand to respond immediately when spoken to, and answer questions requires switched on thinking and he needs a break. He didn’t need to debrief his day as soon as he saw someone he loved, like I did,. Rather, he needed to process it for himself.
This scenario will be all too common to parent of school children. How many of you ask you child “how was school?” and hear only “fine”? It took me a while to get used to this. It can feel like your chatty little buddy is suddenly giving you the silent treatment. However, there’s plenty you can do to make sure that it doesn’t last long.
Once I gave him the calm and space he needed, he was able to open up. Usually, of course, at bedtime! Suddenly he was ready to tell me about what happened at school. He’d tell me who did what; what he enjoyed – everything! Everything that I was desperate to know as soon as we were reunited, I got to know. I just had to wait a little longer to be told. Giving our children the space they need is essential. Alongside ensuring they know we are there to listen; giving them space is key to ensuring that the silence is only temporary.
For us, the conversation usually started up around bedtime. The only slight issue with this was that sometimes bedtime wasn’t the best time for this. We have made little changes to our afternoons and evenings to meet both our needs; his need for time and space; our shared need for reconnection; and my need for calm bedtimes. We have found a way that works for us. We have also written an article of top tips for reconnecting through talking about your day.
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