“Mommy, just one more book!”
“Daddy, play with me.”
“Watch me! Look what I can do!”
There is nothing more important to a child then their parent’s love and attention. It is critical to a child’s healthy development. If a child is not getting the love and attention that they need in positive ways, they will resort to gaining negative attention. They will poke the baby, write on the wall, or not eat their meal.
Older children and teens may resort to more drastic measures when they don’t get the love and attention they need from their parents. They might do poorly in school; turn to drugs, alcohol and sexual promiscuity.
How can we give our children the love and attention that they need? Here are 4 simple ways:
1. Spend alone time with them:
It is important to carve out some time during the day where you have one on one time with each child. It often sounds impossible. However, the good behavior that results from a child getting what he needs, will save time in the long run. We used to stagger our children’s bedtimes so that each child got 10 minutes of our undivided attention. If another child would interrupt, we would be firm, “This is M.’s private time, you will have your private time soon.”
When you have older children, it might just mean making sure that you connect for just a few minutes over a favorite show, ride in the car, or even running some errands together.
2. Physical Touch:
Children need kissing, cuddling, hugging, pats on the back. They are like oxygen to children (some kids more than others). Boys may go through a stage where they don’t want to kiss their Moms, but ruffling of their hair, back rubs or just even a smile can work.
3. Positive Reinforcement:
Children need to feel appreciated. There is a trick though. “Good job!” or “Your such a nice boy!” won’t help. It actually makes children feel less secure and more self-conscious. We want to be as specific as possible:
“I really appreciated your help with washing the dishes.”
“You were able to calm the baby down, when you made funny faces.”
“You put all your dirty laundry in the hamper!”
This helps paint pictures of our children’s capabilities, so that they know what they have done right. They can then start appreciating how valuable they are to their family.
4. Everyone is a Little Different:
Children also need concrete examples of our love. Some children like it when their parents make them their favorite food and some other children would prefer making the favorite food with their parents. It is helpful to experiment and see what works best for your child. It sometimes surprises parents, that what works for one child may not work for another.
Children need love and attention. Giving them our time, physical affection, words of appreciation and knowing what each child needs can do wonders for our children.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.