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Giving Children the Attention They Crave

Children love the attention of their parents. A child will say "look at me, mommy, look" a hundred times as they go down the big slide at the playground even with you standing there with your eyes on them. Attention can be equivalent to care and love when it is given in healthy ways and healthy doses. Many of us parents are acquainted with the fact that if children do not receive enough positive attention they may go to great lengths to gain any attention at all even if it is negative. At first a parent may not recognize the symptoms of this problem, but if you realize that your kids are acting up more than usual and you have been particularly busy lately, this can be a clue. Some parents are very adept at predicting their children's responses. Once there was a mother who could almost set a timer for how long she could talk on the telephone before her toddler would start taking off his diaper or tugging the tail of the cat. So what choices does a parent have if they must spend a certain amount of time a day on the telephone? There are other circumstances, too, that come up, like needing to take care of a younger, more time-demanding sibling or merely getting dinner cooked every day. Sometimes the child in question needs a mere five minutes or more of reinforcement. While this is a good strategy to help you get on quicker with whatever it is you need to do, this is what your children need one or more times a day to grow up feeling loved and secure. Put down whatever it is you are doing completely. Pick up your child and put her in your lap. Look in your child's eyes and say her name. Hearing her name from her parents is like music to a child's ears. Now listen to whatever it is she has to say. Ask her questions about whatever it is. Show genuine interest and share whatever emotion she is expressing. If you think she needs more reinforcement, suggest you read a book together, play a game or go on a walk together. Every child needs a little undivided attention each day. This is true for boys as well as girls.Now take a look at yourself as a parent and see if you are not being a bit selfish by pursuing recreation or even work that is taking you away from your children. Make sure you have your priorities in place. At the risk of sounding like a Harry Chapin song, the children will be grown and gone all too soon, and then they may become too busy for you. They will grow up to be just like you, and you may find yourself chasing after them for attention. Very few people will say to themselves when they are retired from their employment and separated from their grown children, "I wish I had spent more time at the office."

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