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GEMs and Why Kids Need Them

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How much focused attention do you give your kids everyday? Certified Parent Educator and Family Coach, Kim DeMarchi, says it's a critical part of parenting. She stopped by to tell us about Genuine Encounter Moments -- or GEMs - and why we need to provide them for our kids multiple times every day.

Why do children need focused attention and what is it?

For most parents we are so focused on doing things FOR our children, such as packing lunches, arranging play dates, attending their sporting events, planning their birthday parties, etc..., that we actually lose sight of giving them focused attention, the one thing children truly need.

Children are like little gas tanks that need to be replenished many times a day. Giving your children focused attention fills up their tank with connection and love. This focused attention is called a GEM....a Genuine Encounter Moment. A GEM is attention with direct personal involvement that focuses on the uniqueness of your child. It's all about being in the moment and in their world.

GEM steps

  1. Get on the child's eye level.
  2. Make friendly, loving eye contact.
  3. Lovingly touch.
  4. Give 100% focused attention. Focus fully on what the child is saying and not about what you are going to cook for dinner, or the phone call you forgot to make. Try to feel what your child is feeling.
  5. Give a "heart" response instead of a "head" response. i.e.: "Wow, that is so beautiful. Tell me more." vs. "That is going to go through metamorphosis and turn into a Monarch butterfly that then migrates from the North to the South." These are not times for lectures, advice, or lessons.

Do they have to give their children GEMS every time they come to them?

It is humanly impossible to do this every time your child comes to you. If you can't do it, acknowledge your child's request, give a time frame when you will be available, and then keep your word. If you said 5 minutes, don't stretch it to 10.

How many times a day should parents provide these Genuine Encounter Moments?

The more, the better. If you aren't doing any, shoot for one. If you are doing 5, do 6.Many parents are with their children physically, but mentally their focus is elsewhere. Togetherness without genuineness is not togetherness at all. ''Busyness" cancels out "all hereness". When you are "allhere", it says "I care!"to the child. They matter. Parents can ask themselves, "Does my behavior give priority to things and schedules or to human beings and relationships?"