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How to Give Your Child Your Positive Attention

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

Before reading this article, what did you do for the last 10-minutes? Maybe you read your emails, checked Instagram, tidied up your house or simply zoned out (if you had the time!). If you structure 10-minutes for direct, positive attention to your child – you can reinforce your attachment and healthy behaviors. It’s worth it!

It has been found that regular (and routine) positive attention (10-15 minutes) between you and your child can reduce the many attention-seeking behaviors that are confusing, complicated and generally disruptive. They are disruptive on purpose with the goal of pushing your boundaries and asking for your attention (in a not so subtle way).

According to Dr. Christine Raches, PsyD, HSPP, BCBA, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, IU School of Medicine, “Receiving positive attention helps babies learn that they are important and valued members of a group. Infants learn that others can be trusted to take care of them and that they can bring enjoyment to those around them. Positive attention is demonstrated through loving interactions, experiences, and positive relationships. As children grow, positive attention plays a significant role in the initial development of a positive self-image. Positive attention helps children internalize the messages shared and helps them to develop confidence and the belief that they can achieve their dreams and goals.”

Think about the key takeaways here: positive attention (focused, uninterrupted time) will help infants and toddlers know they are loved and develop a positive self-image. You can do this and it will have a direct, positive benefit to you and your child.

Actions You Can Take to Demonstrate Positive Attention

Some actions that you already do demonstrate positive attention. Consider the following suggestions:

  • Making eye contact

  • Smiling

  • Being in close contact (hug, cuddle)

  • Talking to them in a soft, soothing voice

  • Singing or dancing with them

  • Reading with them

  • Holding their hand

  • Being available and responding to their needs

How to Be Attentive to Your Child

The 10-minutes of undivided attention will recharge your child and give them the reinforcement they need of a loving, caring home. It’s also easy to get distracted yourself so make the conscious effort to do so by:

  • Put your phone away! And stay off emails for 10 minutes

  • Be at eye level with your child

  • Stay away from vague phrases (wow, really…) and show you are paying attention with descriptive points (wow, you drew a beautiful turtle!)

  • Respond to your child. Let them lead the way a bit as it is about them (not you)

  • Don’t ask too many questions outside of what they are doing. Get engaged and be in the moment

As our kids get older the fleeting 10-minutes together will certainly remind us of these moments now. Make the time count, be engage, be fully-in and then let them play on their own. You will feel recharged too.

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