Families are busier now than ever before, with parents and children racing in separate directions to school, work, sports practice and zillions of afterschool activities, not to mention the increasing time spent on homework or in front of computers, TVs and other screens. Children spend an average of only X hours per week interacting with their parents, even though the parent-child relationship lays the foundation for all future relationships they are going to have.
Take, for example, this scenario:
A question is posed to a spirited classroom. A grade-school child raises his hand, confidently broadcasting the answer to his teacher and peers…and gets it wrong. Met with a chorus of laughter from his classmates, his cheeks burn with embarrassment as he hangs his head. He continues to stare at the ground throughout the rest of the day. Entering the relative safety of home, he finally raises his head, standing immobile for a moment, defeated, and observes mom circling the kitchen in a flurry of activity. Sighing heavily, he turns and silently trudges up to his room, alone.
Moments like these are what shape children. Met with apathy or ridicule, they start to protect themselves by limiting self-expression and thus, human interaction. A fundamental part of childhood development, self-expression is stifled in environments where respect, love and compassion are not actively communicated, and these children often find difficulty opening up to others as they mature.
How the Pink Elephant Can Help
By introducing your family to the Pink Elephant Promise, and taking it together, you can give your child a powerful tool that he or she can use anytime. Try this:
Download and print the Pink Elephant Promise. A Pink Elephant toy or stuffed animal can also create a playful way for kids to initiate conversations.
Call a family meeting, and explain what the Pink Elephant means.
Sign the Promise together and post it somewhere visible in your home.
Whenever you or your child needs to talk about something important, without fear of getting in trouble or being judged, you can now invoke the Pink Elephant as a way to start the dialogue. By saying the words “Pink Elephant,” or bringing each other the toy, you are sending the message that you have something to say.
Remember, your child will follow your lead. If they invoke the Pink Elephant, sit down and listen openly, or set a concrete time, such as bedtime, when you can give them your full attention. Help them find the words to communicate how they are feeling. You’ll be giving them the gift of self-expression, not just today, but for a lifetime.