PayAttentionJust being in the same room with your kids is often all you need to get a conversation going. You don’t have to ask questions. You don’t have to make comments. Just being present, maybe doing something that doesn’t require your whole attention, creates space for a conversation to emerge—if you can wait for it.

Clearly, conversing with your children is extremely important to their development. Devoted listening helps your child develop her or his speaking skills. Kindergarten teachers tell me that they can tell when a child doesn’t get listened to at home because the speaking skills lag.

This is simply a reminder about watching your children—just being in the same room, relaxed and observant. (Note: this means no multitasking or being preoccupied with technology.)

I realize in our frenetic, chaotic lives, the idea of doing nothing seems daunting. Just change your perspective here—when you are in the same room with your young children, you are actually supporting their development and deepening your relationship with them. Being attentive IS doing something—something very worthwhile.

Recently, a young father came into class with this story:

Last night, I decided to sit down on the floor and just watch my two-year-old son instead of catching up on my e-mail. Isaac was standing in front of the television watching one of his favorite videos. I asked him to tell me about it. He said a few words. Then a few more. Each time he took a step back from the television. Five minutes later, he plopped down in my lap and began talking. It was so cool.

Being in the same space with your kids is a big part of enhancing your relationship with them. Perhaps you are shooting hoops in the driveway. Perhaps you are reading while they are studying. Maybe you are just watching them play.

Sometimes the best conversation is just waiting for the right place and time—it simply requires the space and quiet within which to emerge. Learn to wait for it.