Sunday, July 25, 2010

Positive Discipline Tool Card - Pay Attention

Are your children getting the impression that they are not important?

1) Put down whatever you are doing and focus on your child as though he or she is more important than anything else you could do.
2) Don’t forget to schedule special time. (See the Special Time card.)
3) Remember what Toni Morrison said: “Do your eyes light up when they walk into the room?”

All of these Positive Discipline Tool Cards are valuable, but some of them seem to resonate a little bit more with me. When I turned over this "Pay Attention" tool card it had a profound impact on me. Maybe that is because I see myself in that picture above. maybe I don't have blue stripped pajamas, but I can recognize myself in that situation. Even though my children may not have a tear drop running down their cheek, I know they are hurting inside when I continue working while they are talking to me.

This situation seems to be occurring more often because it is Summer. My kids are home every day and I am trying to keep them occupied so they don't spend all day staring at screens. But I also have to make a living and so I am usually busy with work when they come up to me and need my attention. Just the other day my son came into my office and sat down. He started talking to me as I continued to type away on my computer. I was listening to what he was saying, but I wasn't paying attention to him. I don't even think he knew what he wanted to talk about, I could just tell he needed some time and attention. But I had deadlines and a hundred other things to do, so I kept going at a frantic pace and left him sitting in my office with a dejected look on his face.

Now I'm not advocating that we all quit our jobs and spend 24-7 paying attention to our children. Our children wouldn't want that anyway. But when your child approaches you, that is usually a signal that they are needing your attention. My children usually avoid me most of the time, because they are afraid I am going to give them a chore to do. So the fact that my son came into my office and sat down with me was a clear signal that he needed some attention.

Even though I was busy, I could have taken a minute to stop what I was doing and pay attention to him. Then if I he needed more time than I could give him, I could have explained that I was very busy right now and I could have asked him if we could plan some time after work to talk. Then I could have ended the conversation by giving him a hug and telling him that I love him. He would have left feeling so much better about himself and our relationship. Chances are he wouldn't even need to talk later because all he really wanted was a little love and attention.


Kali said...

This one really resonates for me, too. I'm a single mom of a 3 yo DD and she seems like she CONSTANTLY is wanting my attention and I am always facing a pile of dishes or laundry or the need to cook a meal. It's heartbreaking and I cry about it at least once a week.

Even when I schedule special time with her, I just can't stop every single time she comes up to me - literally every 2-3 minutes.

After work time is the worst - I am tired and hungry and I know she is too, but do I delay dinner even longer so I can give her some attention or put her off one more time so that we can eat?

I feel like it's a no win situation!

Karen said...

This one is a HUGE one for me too. Guilty, guilty, guilty!

I love #3 on this card.

There's a difference between paying attention and the mistaken goal of undue attention and that's the balance I need to remember.

Kali, I know your daughter is only 3 but maybe after work you could reconnect with her first and then maybe involve her in the dinner making (set the table, wash the vegetables etc.). You'd be spending time together and she'd probably feel good about being such a big help.

Jane Nelsen said...

Okay Brad, This is much better than "Days of our Lives." This will touch the heart of every parent. I know we all feel guilty that we don't give our children more time, but that isn't what this is about. Your telling the truth, that represents every parent, is simply a gentle reminder to take a few minutes once in a while. It goes such a long way.

Jane Nelsen said...

I'm reminded of the story I tell in one of the PD books about a mother who was annoyed by the constant attention her 3-year-old demanded. She was always "pushing her away" to encourage independence. Then she went to a fortune teller at a carnival and was told she wouldn't live until Spring. From then on, all she wanted to do was hold her little 3-year-old--demanding her daughters constant attention--until her daughter started pushing her away.

Of course, the mom live way past Spring.