After years of watching parents pick up their child at Sunrise Montessori, I must admit, I had a favorite — Derrell Johnson. Derrell was the most loving and genuine example I have ever seen from a parent picking up his child. His face lit up and he was always excited to see her…every single time! They moved on to elementary last year and still, I remember it fondly. What message is your child receiving from you when you pick them up at school? Are you stressed from your day and rushing them to the car? Or on your phone? Are you happy to see them? It’s so much healthier for BOTH the parent and the child when they enjoy the moment of reunion after being apart. But why? Why is acting happy to see your child so important?
The impact of a smile!
A simple smile from you helps your child feel safe and secure, is good for bonding, and smiling at your child releases hormones that can boost their brain development. (Source #2) I am a Type A parent. I was constantly looking over my son, John, when he was young to see what was wrong, what needed to be fixed, because if something wasn’t right, then that meant I wasn’t a good parent, so naturally, my face was probably full of judgment instead of love. I made a concerted effort years ago to change that after watching an Oprah special (Source #1). Now, before I ask John to take out the trash, before I check him over, before I do ANYthing else, if he’s just walking in the door, I look at him and smile. I make sure he witnesses my happiness every single time after being apart. Do you want your child to wonder what they did wrong when they see you? Or do you want them to sense your love? Our actions are so powerful. All children need to feel validated, seen and loved and the easiest way to do this is to take a few seconds when you see your child and smile!
Children are looking to you to determine how to feel
Part of the reason why the smile action is so important is that “…your face is where your child looks for reassuring, comforting responses and attention.” (Source #2) This NEVER stops. There is no finish line, so no matter how young or old your child becomes, they need you to be their person who is happy to see them. Obviously if something serious is going on, like you just found out your uncle passed away, smiling isn’t what you should do, but thankfully those instances are rare. Smiling is the building block that forms a bond and connection with your child. So is asking them about them, which leads us to the next section.
What if you’re already smiling? What’s the next level?
Children need to feel validated AND they need to feel seen (Human Needs 101 for ALL of us). So start with curiosity! Ask your child about their art work or if she tells you about her friends, ask her what it is that she likes about them. Ferret out the “why” behind their behaviors and thoughts. John used to love stringing things together when he was 5 years old and after a couple weeks of it, strings going from doorknob to light to toy, I finally asked him why he was doing it (I assumed it was because he loved Spider Man). He replied, “Because I’m creating clouds!” The strings looked different after that. It’s also just as important to ask them questions that help them and you discover who they are. Asking questions let’s them be seen, helps you bond together by showing you care about what they think and do, and allows you to advance to the Master level of Parenting.
Here’s one more (it’s Ph.D level)…
One of the best pieces of advice I was given about parenting was from a close friend. We were discussing the difficulties of parenthood and he said, “For me, one of the hardest parts of being a dad is remembering that I’m not supposed to be the parent I wanted as a child, but to be the parent each of my children needs.” Wow, right? So how do you ensure you are doing that? How can we build a strong enough foundation to overcome the inevitable mistakes we make as a parent?
What our children need to see when we pick them up is that we are happy to see them. They just need to see you look at them and smile. It shows them consistently, repeatedly, unequivocally that we love them. Are you focused on your son when you pick him up from school, asking questions about his day? Are you smiling when you see your daughter after she wakes up in the morning? If so, you are communicating a powerful message to your child by creating a deeper, more open relationship which you both can happily harvest in the decades to come.
Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then book a tour on our website at Sunrise-Montessori.com or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!