Discovering Children Through Active Observation


One of the keys to “discovery” is active observation. Active observation is when you actively move your frame of reference to look at something in a new way. How many of you have not been able to find something that was right in front of you? You look all around with great frustration, announce to the world, “It’s Gone!” (with great emotion) only to have someone (usually a spouse, or mom) walk right over to it and then smugly give it to you.

This happens because our vantage point, whether actual or psychological, does not allow us to see. We have to actively change our reference point (actual or psychological) in order to perceive what is right in front of us the whole time. Most discoveries happen that way.

So how does this apply to discovering our children? We all develop colored glasses that cause us to see selectively the people nearest us. We unconsciously form assumptions that may have been true when they were formed but may no longer apply. To discover new things in our children we need to move our point of reference.

One of the best ways of doing this is to raise our awareness by asking ourselves questions. Here are some awareness raising questions:

What is my child’s favorite activity? Why? Has this changed recently?
What has changed in my child over the last week?
Who are their best friends? Are they new best friends?
What does their countenance tell me about their emotional barometer? Are they happy? worried? up? depressed? guarded? open?
What is their current passion?

Another way of moving our point of reference is to change our physical environment. If you only see your child at home, go to their play environment and watch how they interact with other children. One of the most educational times for me as a parent happened when I took my son with me to a business conference. My son was about 9 at the time. I was responsible to man a booth and answer technical questions regarding my company’s equipment. By the time the event was over, my son had met all of the other equipment reps at the event, knew what they were selling and could describe in some detail how our equipment worked. That experience required me to reset my internal view of who my son was. It changed my perspective of what his gifts were and what how capabilities had grown.

Look for opportunities to see your children in new environments. Go to their activities. Observe them with their friends. Take them out to lunch. Work at viewing them from many perspectives. By entering their world you will have new eyes open to discover the treasure that is before you.

Howard Davis, the founder of Successful Family Chores, has numerous academic credentials. His greatest asset however, is his experience raising 4 children of his own! He knows first hand both the frustrations and the joys of parenting. It was his love for his family and a heart to help other families that motivated the creation of Successful Family Chores.


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