Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Entertain. — Hey Kids! It is not always all about you.

on October 26, 2013

Every now and then I find myself saying to the kiddos: “This is not about you. This is about (_________). I know you can do this.”

I’m usually saying this to them when I need them to recognize that it is not my job, at that moment, to entertain them.

When I need them to sit still and quietly and find something to do amongst other adults.

When they need to know that it is important to be able to focus on others sometimes and learn how to (gasp) wait for their own needs to be met.

I said this to the kiddos a few nights ago, when we all needed to attend an event.

An event that was clearly not going to be exciting for kids. It was a political forum. So maybe it was an event that was not even going to be exciting for some of the adults around us, too.

But their Daddy is running for a public office, so we were there to show support. To show solidarity. To quietly be his cheerleaders.

The kiddos needed to be able to sit in an auditorium and be quietly entertained.

Which is hard when you are a kid. But it is also something that I believe, for my own little world, kids need to be able to do.

We came prepared though. We had books to read. iPads to play on. Paper and pens to write and draw.

But still there were a few times of shhhhussshhhhhing interventions, several trips to the bathroom, a few “I’m boreds” and “I’m hungrys” thrown in for good measure.

As tired working Mommas, we have probably all had to drag our kiddos to events like this. Well, maybe not just like this.

But we have all probably needed to be somewhere and our kids had to come along with us. Maybe we had to bring them to work or to a meeting. Maybe we had to bring them to a race or a performance. Maybe we had to be at an event to talk to someone, in front of a group, or even just needed to have an important conversation with someone else.

Whatever it is, I think this is important for our kids to know.  While we work hard to engage in their lives, not every minute, every second has to be about them. Not every activity needs to revolve around them. Not every conversation is ok to be interrupted with their immediate need or want. And sometimes, sometimes, they have to learn how to wait. How to sit still. Be quiet-ish. And entertain themselves.

I’ve seen children that don’t know how to do this.  I’ve seen my own kiddos who don’t always know how to do this.

So, how do we model this for our kids? How do we teach them that sometimes, it is just not going to be about them? How do we give them opportunities to entertain themselves? How do we help them understand that sometimes they have to ‘show up’ for someone else? How do we let them know that they may need to put their immediate needs aside for a few minutes to support someone else?

We give them a chance to practice this. Practice showing up. Practice sitting still. Practice listening and watching.

We set expectations ahead of time. Prepare them for what’s coming. Give gentle reminders. Applaud their successes.

And let them know how much it meant to (__________) that they were there for them for this event, For this performance. For this race.

Overall, they did a great job and I was extremely proud of them.

Y did some reading. She also did some observing and had some fascinating insights on the whole political process. I really enjoyed talking with her about it afterwards. At 8, she has politics figured out better than some adults I know.

By the end of the forum, X was laying on the floor, between the rows of seats, doodling. Quietly doodling.


And I even captured his masterpiece to have forever as a treasured souvenir.

As bored as they may have been for the evening, they learned three important lessons that evening:

1. How to entertain themselves.

2. It is important to show up for someone else.

3. It is not always about you.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Today’s Action Challenge: Think about how you show up for others. When do you put your needs aside to really be there for someone else? How do you entertain yourself? If applicable, how do you help your kids know how to entertain themselves?

Recognize when it is important to say, “It is not about me. It is about (______).”

Let’s all, Go. Do that.


6 responses to “Entertain. — Hey Kids! It is not always all about you.

  1. sanstorm says:

    I agree with everything you said. We do children a disservice to make them think that everything we go to is all-singing-all-dancing and tailored to their every need. They need to learn to zip it sometimes and use their imagination or a doodle-pad to pass the time. I tell my kids “boredom is developmentally important” and I think it has paid off… I think 😉

  2. geanieroake says:

    Oh thank you for that post. I agree with everything you said, and am relieved to know that some parents still feel that way. We cheat our kids when we don’t teach them to entertain themselves, An adult in my life used to say, “If you say I’m bored, what you are actually saying is I boremyself. Also, the world does not revolve around you, and great that you are teaching them that by showing how to be there for others.

    • MommyVerbs says:

      Thanks for the support. We really do a lot with them and for them and because of them. I think it is only fair that (now that they are old enough to ‘get it’) that they learn they have to be there for our stuff sometimes, too. This motherhood thing…everyday, just trying to do the best we can. 🙂

  3. Insist. This is what I have to do these days with my daughters, when it comes to showing up for something that’s not on their personal top ten list of ways they want to spend their weekend time. Especially the weekend time. At their age this is still a battle, not so much because they can’t entertain themselves but because they so easily fall into the trap “why should I have to go?” It is especially acute when insisting that they need to attend each other’s sporting events. I’m trying to get them to see how important it is to support and cheer for each other. Or even if you just show up and sit on the sidelines and read a book, it’s showing quiet and totally solid support. But it is wearying. Insisting is the very hard work of parenting.

    Great, great post!

    • MommyVerbs says:

      I love that you are encouraging them to show up for each other, their sister. They don’t know how important it is…yet. But they will, with your guidance, they will. Good work, Momma. Good work. 🙂

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