We, as parents, are physically present in our kids’ lives, but emotionally unavailable. How many of us give undivided or positive attention to our infant and toddler, while playing or spending time with them?
Positive attention is a simple act of love and the way we respond to our child with warmth and enthusiasm.
It has to be an effortless and meaningful interaction with your child. A simple act like these are also positive attention:
- morning hug with a gentle kiss,
- a meaningful and encouraging smile,
- positive and encouraging words to celebrate small achievements in your kid’s life,
- showing interest in your child’s interests, activities and toys,
- give undivided attention when the child talks to you,
- simple and sweet good night kiss.
It makes a child feel loved and supported. It will help create a healthy positive relationship with your child. It also helps in reducing behavioural problem in kids. However, it does not imply that you have to be there every minute to your child.
Instead, we should aim to give children all of our attention, but only some of the time. In The Secret of Happy Children, Steve Biddulph recommends, “Spend half an hour of full-attention time with children each day, instead of hours of begrudged half-attention.”
And Judith Locke, author of The Bonsai Child, writes: “Quality time with children is not necessarily endless time with them. . . . Children actually benefit when their parent leaves them to do other things, and then returns.” Read Here.
It’s not humanly possible to be positive all the time. There will be times when you can’t avoid some important work and deadlines and that’s fine. And your child will cope just fine if you’re occasionally unavailable or distracted.
In our present-day world, we have become addicted to smart-phone and social media, and we don’t even realise that we are missing the pleasure of small things in life.
The simple joy of watching our kids grow. When there is little time, we tend to skip spending time with our kids.
Smartphone use has been associated with a familiar sign of addiction: Distracted adults grow irritable when their phone use is interrupted; they not only miss emotional cues but misread them. To read more on Distracted Parenting, click here.
In this process, we hurt ourself, our loved ones and our creativity. A bit of pause and slowness might bring us back to a more human state of mind.
In the article on Quartz about “Time management is only making our busy lives worse“, Tony Crabbe specifically points out that we try to divide our attention up among multiple activities and tasks all at once, causing us to pay less attention to each activity.
I didn’t realise that this was a problem until I listened to Sara Tasker‘s podcast Hashtag Authentic‘s latest episode on distraction and procrastination – How to be Indistractable in a chaotic world with Nir Eyal.
It hit me five months back when my daughter asked me something. I couldn’t hear as I was talking on the phone. She started crying and I never found out what she wanted from me at that moment.
That moment made me realise, if I don’t do anything to make these moments memorable for her, I will miss beautiful moments of “our life”.
Though I am already implementing a few habits in my life, however, I still have a long road to travel. I try not to get distracted and keep my phone on silent. I don’t carry my phone all the time with me. I have stopped all notifications for any social app or group on iPhone and iWatch.
“The Dangers of Distracted Parenting” rightly reminds us to limit our phone use so we can be fully present with our children.
But in a modern world, where our screens aren’t just optional entertainment but a vital means of earning a paycheck, paying the bills, and organizing next week’s childcare, we need to put our parenting (and our screen time) in their proper perspective. Read the complete article here.
Here are a few lists of how to focus on your child purposefully:
Be Present: To give your child undivided attention, be present. Not just physically but emotionally, without any other thought in your mind.
Set Two-way communication: Talking with each other helps children to learn to express themselves and to master conversational skills. The more we talk to them, the more their brains absorb.
Do Some Activity Together: You may choose an activity together which can help build a stronger parent-child bond. You may read a storybook, engage in imaginary play, a little walk in the park or some cooking together.
Shut All Noise: Remove any kind of distractions during your time together. Keep your phone on silent or better switch it off or in a different room. Undivided attention makes your kids believe they are ‘important’.
Express It: If there are any urgent or important reasons to divert your attention from them, just explain why it’s important. Explain calmly if your child asks for attention at an impossible time.
Encourage and Give Compliments: Responding with enthusiasm to their attempts to master new things ensures that the kids will keep trying.
With our extremely busy schedules, our interactions with our kids have become absent-minded because we hardly have the mind space to be completely involved. We all can bring a few positive changes in our lives and give undivided attention to them when our kids need it.
I made a few changes in my lifestyle and I felt I was more happy and relaxed. We both found a few activities which we enjoyed together like cooking, gardening and her favourite storytime. Our bond has got stronger and she enjoys me being around all the time.
There is still lots to be done and we have a long way to go. I would love to hear your thoughts on the same.