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Your whole and complete attention

Your child deserves your attention, your whole and complete attention. In a recent article on NPR, the topic was “wild playgrounds”. ( ) The activities described there were the ones we kids used to make up as we ran up and down the block and played in each other’s yards and rode bikes everywhere we could get to. Our parents were aware of where we were, who we were with, and what was going on at the various houses and yards. They spent time with us, cleaning our hands and faces and making sure we cleaned up our activities.

Handling tools with scraps from someone’s garage woodshop, climbing up homemade structures, building forts, painting scrap wood sculptures happened spontaneously. Now, parents sign a release to stay with their child in “wild” playgrounds that have materials lying around for children to engage with.

Even then, the article says, many parents are not playing with their children. They are on their phones or texting.

When you pay attention to your children, they feel the intensity of your love and the fact that you value their presence. They notice that you are paying attention to them. It gives a different dimension to their lives. They can receive only so much guidance from teachers, community helpers, nannies, neighbors, and peers. Parental attention and guidance is much more intimate and deep.

I gave up teaching private music lessons when parents talked on their phones, texted, or kept telling their child to listen. It distracted the child and made it impossible for me to tune into the child’s needs in a way to give the child the intense direction that training a precision skill requires.

I am now looking for parents who will devote ten minutes a day with their child to learn my new system of music reading readiness ( When they give the child undistracted attention, it tells the child that s/he is important. There is deep security and trust in an intimate setting without distraction. There is commitment. There is discipline. There is satisfaction. And there is progress!

Sharing your child’s progress and being the reason they are progressing is the main reason we are parents. We can give them enriched surroundings in simple ways that only require our time. Trips to the library, museums and local concerts. Time playing in the creek or swimming pool. Walking to the park. Cooking together. Doing yard work and gardening together.

Taking the time to share the simple things that make up life with your whole and undivided attention will do more for your relationship with your child and for your child’s life than anything else on earth.

© 2014 Kathryn Hardage

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