Demanding Attention—Will You Go Play!
The need for attention is a primal need. How you give your child attention can determine your frustration level. Most parents think giving a child attention means you have to stop what you’re doing and go into the other room to play with them. If you’re able to do that, that’s great.
There is another way to give attention and it only takes 30 seconds. This new form of giving attention requires that you’re fully present and in the moment when your child comes looking attention. How do you know your child just needs her primal attention tank filled?
Have you ever asked your child “whatcha need?” and they either stand there or make something up? That’s a child in need of some attention. Children don’t consciously know they need “attention,” they just have a primal need to be around you. If, each time they need attention, you stop what you’re doing and go play with them, you’re showing them what to expect. Doing that day in and day out can lead to frustration and emotional exhaustion for you.
Try using what I call an “Emotional Hit and Run.” Since you’re fully present and in the moment when you do this, your child absorbs even more love and attention than if you begrudgingly stop what you’re doing to play with them.
When she comes in looking for attention, stop what you’re doing, get down to her level and look her in the eye and ask, “what do you need sweetie?” Or do what I did, teach your kids to ask for a hug. Then with a happy lilt in your voice say, “Now run away!”
This does three things:
Giving a child a fully present hug fills their momentary need for attention.
Saying, “now run away” sounds like a game and stops the child from pleading or whining for more attention.
Once filled with the primal attention they need they are empowered to play independently.