Parental Presence

by | Dec 5, 2018

Parental presence is the central pillar of NVR, it supports us in creating strong, connected relationships with our children.

When we have strong relationships we see a reduction in challenging behaviours from our children and as parents we feel more in control and less like we are walking on eggshells.

So what is parental presence?

You’re maybe thinking, I’m always present with my child and it’s not making any difference. I want you to think about how you are present. As I mum I know that I can be in the same room as my son, but not giving him my full attention.

You know those times when you’re sitting on the sofa with your child whilst skimming through social media? You probably say the odd ‘yes’ but you’re not fully listening. As you’ll know this doesn’t build connection.

There are different ways we can build our parental presence, some of which arguably easier than others. Here are the 4 ways we can raise our presence:

  1. Physical presence is where we give our child our undivided attention for a period of time. For example we might sit and play a game with them for 20 minutes. During this time all other distractions are left to one side and we are fully engaged with our child. If your child doesn’t want to spend time with you then you might need to get creative with how you do this. Start with simply sending them a text message and build it from there. For teenagers a text message can have a lot of power.
  2. Cognitive presence is where we are responding rather than reacting to our child. This is particularly useful to try and do if our child is struggling, and communicating that struggle through their behaviour. To do this, instead of responding immediately we take a few seconds and think about how best to respond to calm the situation. What does your child need now? Instead of saying ‘put your shoes on’ for the 20th time, stop, think and say something like ‘what can I do to help you at the moment’. The words will depend on your child and the situation.
  3. Emotional presence focuses on our emotional state. We stay calm when our children are escalating for example. This self regulation shows the child that as the parent we can support them and hold them when there emotions become too big and scary for them.
  4. Social presence is about building a support network around the family. This can be supporters for us as parents, for our children and for the whole family.

Raising our parental presence with our children has a significant impact on our relationship with them and their behaviour. Often when the last thing we want to do is spend time with our children, it’s the most important thing for us to do.