Many times as parents it is very difficult to determine which of our child’s behaviors are to get attention from us and which behaviors are just kids being kids. What behaviors should you pay attention to, and which should you ignore? It often seems that our kids become needier when we are busy or engaged in other activities. For example, after a long day at work, the one thing you want to do is be able to relax but you have your kid behind you making conversation, asking questions, and interrupting your rest time. It is very normal to feel annoyed at these behaviors and to want to tell your kid to give you space; however, if you can stop and take a step back you will notice that all your kid is wanting from you is your time and attention.
Feeling seen and heard is very important in developing healthy relationships. Everyone needs attention to feel important to those around us. Children are no different. Children are highly motivated by attention and oftentimes it does not matter whether this attention is positive or negative — any type of attention is better than being ignored!
So, what can you do when your kid wants attention?
Give them attention!
Here are 4 ways that you can give your kid positive attention and harvest positive behaviors from them in return:
Face to Face Time
The moment you see your kids after not seeing them for a while (could be when returning from work, first thing in the morning, or after nap time) make it a point to smile at them, hug them, ask them about their day or how they slept, and be interested in what they share. This does not have to take a long time. A couple of minutes of showing interest is enough to foster a sense of importance in your child.
Play is the language children communicate in. Let them direct you and guide you in the play. Children do not get many chances to make decisions in their life, and they often lack any control over what occurs to them or around them. They are constantly having to follow directions and listen to adults, but if you can spend at least 20 minutes a day wholly engaging in play — that they direct — it will allow them to gain a sense of inclusion and control and build their overall self-esteem. Just remember quality over quantity is key here and remember: you will be building memories with your child that can last a lifetime.
The research shows that physical touch is very important to building brain connections. Show your child that you love them and that they matter with physical affection. Ask them if it’s ok with them to give them a hug, and then give them a big one! Maybe even make a game out of it as to who can give the best bear hug. Give them kisses and tell them what you love about them any chance that you get. This will help them to feel loved and help lay the foundation for healthy relationships in the future.
What we tell our kids is what they become. It is crucial that we are mindful of our words around our children. Children easily internalize and begin to believe everything that is said to them. Constantly point out what they are doing wrong? They will soon think they can’t do anything right. Constantly point out how much they are loved? They will quickly feel important and secure in their environment. Always notice what they are doing well, how much effort they are putting into something, and tell them how proud you are of them — often.
When we engage in positive ways with our children, their positive behaviors grow. They start acting more in the way we would like for them to act because their emotional needs are met, and they do not feel a reason to act out. Obviously, no one is perfect, and sometimes we say the wrong things, but that’s ok! There will always be trying moments, but if you can make it a priority and a goal to engage in positive interactions with your kids everyday then your family life will be better for it.
If you need a bit more advice or help when it comes to understanding your child’s behaviors, and you live in Douglasville, Villa Rica, Mableton, or Lithia Springs Georgia, then contact me for a free 15 minute consultation on how I can help!