Close the Distance

“Time’s up. Turn off your iPad,” I yell from the kitchen to another part of the house.

“What, Mom?” my son yells back.

“No more Minecraft!” I yell a little louder.


I am agitated now. He must be ignoring me. At full-throttle volume: “TURN IT OFF!”

Has this ever happened to you? Daily, maybe? One of the biggest changes we made as a family was to consciously CLOSE THE DISTANCE – that is, to go close enough where the person you want to communicate with can SEE and HEAR you. It has turned out to be one of the best parenting tips we’ve ever used.

Let’s try a DO-OVER of this scene:

I hear the timer go off. I know it is for my son playing Minecraft on his iPad in the other room. I put down the soapy dish and wipe my hands. I walk calmly into his room.

“Hey, there.” I get his attention, make sure he is looking at me and not the screen. “The alarm went off.”

“Thanks, Mom. I didn’t hear it.” He shuts his program and turns off his iPad.

We both move on easily – dare I say lovingly? – to something else.

(See more on Do-Overs HERE.)

My son really notices now how loud other families can be and he seems to find it disconcerting. Sometimes families sound like they are yelling at one another. They might not be upset – just too far away from one another to speak respectfully.

This is one parenting tool that can help with better family communication – and with children of any age.  It’s not just for the kids but for ALL members of your family (pet’s, too!). Try to Close the Distance whenever possible.



4 Responses to “Close the Distance”

  1. Love this advice! I find that when I stop and connect with my daughter, eye to eye, the results are much better. Also, because I am a singer, I am consciously trying to never yell in order to preserve my voice, even if I am just calling to my daughter in the backyard or at school. So we came up with a whistle that is my own special call for her. When she hears it, she knows I am trying to connect and she has her own little melodic response. Then she knows I need to talk with her and she comes closer so we can do that. For meals, I have a special song I whistle so she knows to come to the table. It has been working well.

  2. Amen! I think this ties into what your Dad says about respect: although it may not be overtly disrespectful to call to our kids from another room, it’s certainly a nice gesture to take the time to stop what we’re doing and ‘go the extra meter’ to simply approach them as you suggest. Even if we’re ‘working’ and the child is only ‘playing’, to *not* stop our task while expecting the child to stop theirs is poor modeling – “do as I shout, not as I do”.

    And it’s just plain practical: whether or not they ‘should’, it seems kids have a effective range that is unconsciously determined by them, not by us – maybe some kind of object permanence? I dunno… but if we’re not right there, we’re not ‘there’ to them. I don’t think they’re ignoring us per se; they’re just not getting enough ‘bars’ for an effective connection. Distant signals just aren’t processed as well – which, come to think of it, is also frequently true for big people who should ‘know better’.


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