Positive Attention: Putting More Time In for fewer Time-Outs

Positive attention is important for your child

A positive relationship with your child is crucial for many reasons — especially discipline. A healthy and wholesome relationship with your child will make them strive to do their best as you lead them through life, and a large part of fostering this kind of relationship involves positive attention. A daily dose of positive attention can go a long way to help reduce negative behaviour in your child.

Positive attention helps you discipline your child

When your child gets a healthy amount of positive attention, they will seek less attention from you, especially when you are busy. Having your child seek your attention while you are busy cooking or doing work can be frustrating and may cause you to react in a way that may upset them. Children who get regular, positive attention from their parents and grandparents are less likely to whine, disturb their siblings or ask questions repeatedly.

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What’s interesting to note, however, is that positive attention makes negative reinforcement more effective. For example, your child will respond better to a time-out when they receive regular positive attention because they realise the value of it and learn about consequence. Conversely, a child who doesn’t get much attention will not care if they are in a time-out or not.

Daily doses of positive attention keep your child at bay

It only takes a mere 10 – 15 minutes a day of your undivided attention for your child to feel loved and appreciated. This may sound simple for some parents, but for those who work long hours or have many children, one-on-one time can be quite a challenge.

You should set time aside daily to do an activity together. No matter how tempting, do not ‘share’ this precious time with any other family member as this makes the quality time less special to your child. Stay clear of electronic devices during this time because the whole point of your time together is to interact with each other.

You could play a board game or a toy together, take a walk or engage in imaginative play. You could also just sit down and have a chat with them. As much as possible, allow your child to pick the activity so that they know that their opinion is important to you. Whatever the activity, it will help your child develop a special bond with you and reduce the instances of you having to discipline them in the long run. 

Tips for Making One-on-One Time Effective

  • Remove distractions
    Make sure the TV is off and make sure you separate yourself from other family members in the house where possible. Silence your phone, or better yet, put it away since it’ll only be for a short while. Show your child that they have your full attention.
  • Comment positively
    Instead of criticizing or making your child feel small about something they are doing, be inquisitive. For example, say “Why did you put the car on the bus?” instead of “Why would you do that?”. Positive attention involves speaking positively as well. 
  • Don’t ask too many questions
    You don’t want them to feel like they are being tested or interrogated, so refrain from asking too many questions. Things like “Please pass me the blue ball” or “Wow! You are learning so much in school!” are better than “What colour is this ball?” and “What did you learn in school today?”
  • Let their imagination run wild
    It is important that you don’t hinder your child’s creativity, so you should resist the urge to correct their pretend play. Don’t argue if they say horses can fly or if they want to colour a mouse pink. Instead, play along and try to be creative as well. 

 

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