Dear Hand in Hand,
My daughter's school is really pushing reading. They constantly say how reading opens the world and makes for a more ready and open learner.
I've always thought I was quite lucky because my 7-year-old girl just loves to read. She'll read upside down on the couch, in the car on the way to school, and she'd read at the dinner table and on the street if I let her!
But now I'm confused. In a few of your materials you mention that reading can be a sign of disconnect. Why is this, and how can I tell if my daughter is a “healthy reader” or is her intense interest coming from somewhere else?
Should I be Concerned?
From, a Confused Mom
Dear Confused Mom,
Yea! Your daughter loves to read! Congratulations! I think you can rest assured that she's fine.
For a few children who feel unsure of themselves in the world, reading can provide a safe place, a way to detour around the ups and downs of daily life, which is less predictable and often more challenging that the life they live in their minds and imaginations. But if this were true for your daughter, you would have noticed that she turns down opportunities to play, opportunities to connect, opportunities to do new things, in favor of reading. And those signs of avoidance would have prompted you to ask us this question, rather than the mention we made that for a few children, reading can become a bit of a hiding place.
It's wonderful when our children have things they love so much they don't want to stop. If your daughter does use reading as a hideout now and then, there's no reason to worry. You can just nudge your way in to make a connection with Special Time or Playlistening, or perhaps set a limit. You're already doing that when it makes sense to you – no reading at the dinner table. A child who is thinking and feeling connected will simply understand and comply.
If there's tension she's carrying, and you can show her you care, she'll find a way to offload the feelings that are bothering her, using your limit as the flashpoint. With your Staylistening, she'll be happier to be in the flow of the family, and feel more connected to you.
I hope this sets your mind at ease. I'm glad you asked! Now you can enjoy the love she has for reading, and be unworried even when she goes overboard. You'll notice the signs, and Listening Tools will help you get things nicely on track again.
From the Hand in Hand Toolbox:
Want to know how five simple tools can change the way you parent so that you feel more connected to your children? Patty introduces each tool on this replay, Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges.
Read Your Fear Toolkit: How to Help your Child with Fear and Anxiety for advice on reaching children that keep their feelings stuffed inside.