“Knee to knee just you and me – close the door for four”

In a world full of busy & crazy and running here & there.
In a world full of 24 hour technology that everyone can share
In a world full of working from home and trying to do our best
We are losing our conversation, eye contact and our overall vocal zest!

So many of our conversations these days are held over the phone or through texts or emails. But even those conversations we have with people in the same room, we are usually cooking dinner, watching TV, driving, cleaning or doing the washing at the same time – this is a fact of life! Life is busy, it’s full on and there are still only 24 hours in a day!

Unfortunately this is what our children see though… they see that you have a conversation while busily doing other things, they don’t see the importance of eye contact and facial expression, they miss out on many of the meaningful conversational information as they are busily distracted with ‘things and devices’ themselves. This is becoming problematic when they are starting school as they are asked to sit and look face to face with their teacher for a short length of time and they can’t maintain attention for long enough to follow the directions. Face to face conversation holds minimal importance to them and they are not visually stimulated (as they have become accustomed to with lights, and noise and screens).

I have heard a few things over the years that have made me think about the issues of being a ‘busy’ parent:

A presentation to parents saying “If you don’t have time to read a book to your child everyday do it during the bath or at dinner time” and “If you don’t have time to play with your child sit them next to you so you can still engage in the play passively.”  While these are good ideas for parents with limited time, it got me thinking that children are missing out on face to face quality interaction because life is “busy” and we want to multitask.

My biggest wake up call (personally) was when I was on my phone at home looking at work emails and my son (aged 2) wanted to talk to me, he tried to talk and I was only half listening, which he could tell, so he gently put his hand under my chin and turn my head to look at him – this is a very big wake up call to me to say ‘hey – your 2 year old knows that you are not giving him eye contact to talk to him… when he is a teenager and does the same thing, you will have no one to blame but yourself”

So I started a concept I thought of and I thought I would share it with you all too. It’s a basic concept to help with “quality” face to face time and you can incorporate it into your life everyday! It can be done before bed, or when your children get home from school (or you get home from work). The time of day doesn’t matter, all you need is a quiet room, no TV, phones etc, just you and your child.

It’s called a “knee to knee just you and me – close the door for four” chat!
It simply means you sit knee to knee with your child and you talk back and forth for at least 4 minutes with no interruptions. Simple as that! The only rules are that you both have to actually look at each other when you are talking and neither of you are distracted by anything else. This doesn’t mean an uncomfortable staring competition while you are talking, just good old fashioned normal conversational eye contact.

All ages can participate –

  • Young children can sit on your knee
  • Primary age can sit crossed legged with you on the floor
  • Teenagers can sit on chairs

You can spare 4 minutes of your day every day and talk to your child face to face about whatever they want, you will find they can open up to you more and you will both take in a lot more out of the conversation than if it is done fleetingly between activities.
Many children are starting preschool and Kindergarten with poor eye contact and the ablity to maintain attention for more than 30 seconds (unless a smart board or other screen is involved) we need to think about what we are role modelling to our children and what experiences we are giving them to set them up for life!