“Are you OK dad?” asks a child. “Fine” I reply “Why?” “You look upset”. Lately, I have been noticing that my children are keying into my facial expressions. It’s interesting how quickly they pick up on my mood. This new year, I’m going to make a concerted effort to control those facial expressions.
The Holiday Season is a time of great fun, but it can also be exhausting. The kids are on break and the anticipation of gifts is in the air. This can lead to some frustration as a parent. I know for me that I get a lot of questions during this time. Most of them are of the “What am I getting dad?” or “Dad, can you do this for me?” So, when a child comes to me, my first thought is “what do they want now”. And guess what? It shows on my face.
Typical Facial Expressions
As I have thought about my facial expressions over the last couple of weeks, I realized that they usually fall into one of the following:
- “Oh no”
Now, my children are perceptive and pick up on this very quickly, so I have to change my ways. As I’ve thought about it, I realize that when my children come to me there is an opportunity to connect with my child. If I think about connecting with them my attitude will change. If my attitude changes then my facial expressions will change.
Facial Expressions I Want to Portray
What facial expressions do I want to show my children? The first ones that come to mind are happiness, excitement, and joy. These expressions will, in turn, show my children how much I love them and how important they are to me. And really, other than Cheryl, they are the most important people in my life. How much better would we connect if I showed them that love first instead of the ones that are my first reaction? I guess control is in order.
Steps I’m Planning to Take
Here are the steps I’m planning to take to control my facial expressions:
- Clear my thoughts
- Focus on the child and my connection with him/her
- Think about the relationship I want to have with my child
- Put on my face an expression that matches the relationship I want to have
- Maintain those thoughts and expressions throughout the conversation
I believe that if I follow these five steps, my interactions with my children will be better and I won’t put my children on defense whenever they come to talk with me. In fact, by following the five steps above, I believe my children will want to come and talk with me.