This is great info (great headline, too) and it came at the perfect time, as my 4-year-old is on break from preschool and we have to somehow fill our days. I want my own vacation and rest time, so I spend a lot of time reading or daydreaming on the couch while he asks if I’ll play with him. He does the same bossy role-playing as your daughter, and it turns out my resentment of authority extends to my son. I say “no” a lot and feel very guilty about it.
But you pointed out that moments of focused attention can be enough, and that gives me some relief. Every morning when he comes out from his bedroom, I put my writing away, open my arms, and snuggle with him for 10 minutes.
I have also started to pay attention to making eye contact when we talk. So often I’m cleaning the kitchen, folding laundry, or keeping half my mind on my work during our conversations. One day, when I simply sat across from him while he talked, I realized how strange it felt to look into his eyes while he was speaking. Since that moment, I’ve made a conscious effort to stop what I’m doing and give him eye contact while he’s talking to me, at least a few times each day. I don’t know if he notices or cares, but I feel a lot better about my ability to raise a good human.