One of the most common reasons children act out inappropriately is to get attention. Children recognize that when they choose to make poor choices, it usually creates a string of reactions that put them at the center of the issue. After all, negative attention is still attention.
The busier parents become with work and extra-curricular activities, the more difficult it is to devote complete and undivided attention to your child. However, showing your child that they are important to you by putting aside time specifically for them greatly increases your parent-child bond.
I am sure your first thought is “If I had time to set aside for them, I would”. Every parent wants to be more present with their children, and tries to make time for that. Unfortunately, it can get pushed behind dinner, sports, bath-time and homework very easily.
The 30 Second Burst of Attention is a great way to fit in special time for you and your child, even with a hectic schedule. I encourage you to make it a priority at least once a day to devote 30 seconds of FULL attention to your child when they ask for you. This means stop whatever you are doing, turn to face them (remember, your toes follow your nose- see last week’s article), and be engaged with them in that time. If you can afford to spend several minutes with them, do so! But, a 30 second burst is effective as well at communicating to your child that he/she is important.
Initially, your child may try to stop you from returning to your other tasks after the 30 seconds, but gently tell them you need to finish what you were doing. Remind them that you listened to them, and when you are finished with your current task, you can spend time with them again. Over time, your child will learn that you will give them the attention they need, and will not be so demanding of time.
Often, parents also report that their child’s behavior improves, as they are no longer reaching out for attention in the wrong ways. Children are like sponges, and fully absorb love, affection and time. The more of each you have to give, the fuller they feel!