Strategize 20 Minute Attention Pockets to Prevent Tearful Blow-ups and Build More Connection with your Kids
You can give a child the entire toy aisle of Target and they will still want your attention. Attention seeking is one of the top motivators for negative behaviors. Right now, parents worldwide are preoccupied with pandemic-stricken news and an oversaturated struggle to tackle work and life balance leaving children frustrated and longing for attention.
When I started brainstorming ways to tackle negative attention-seeking behaviors, I sought out Nicole, founder of Meetings and Motherhood. We come equipped with years of experience balancing work and child-rearing at home backed with degrees in Child Development and on-the-job counseling with emotionally struggling children. We’ve come up with 5 opportunities to build in 20-minute attention pockets throughout the day to proactively address negative attention-seeking behaviors in your home. Let’s dive in!
Breakfast is Ready
With morning transit time cut-out for most, we have more time to sit down and give our kids attention that will fulfill their emotional needs making the upcoming tasks ahead more pleasant. Nicole mentions planning the day is a way she and her daughter bond, and we’ve done the same. Using breakfast time to hash out goals for the day, ask about their dreams, and share funny stories will put your best foot forward. Dr. Munson echoes the importance of this by clarifying, “Giving attention doesn’t mean meeting all of your child’s demands at every turn. Rather, it means engaging with them consistently and lovingly each day.”
Breath of Fresh Air
After weeks of confined quarantine, we are able to get out of the house with less fear than in the months prior. Starting out our days with a quick dose of nature has brought about a serious mood shift for my kids and me. The Child Mind Institute finds that exposure to the outdoors boosts confidence, promotes creativity and imagination, teaches responsibility, and reduces stress, amongst a myriad of other perks. In my house, the 20-minute walk has provided an opportunity for us to connect first thing then focus on work and school when we return. Nicole has found that an after lunch outdoor wiggle session works best in her house, either way, we intentionally connect with the kids and nature together.
Teach Each other
The response to “How was your day?” was the high-level understanding of our kids’ school days, now we know every minute of it. But with our pull to match pre-covid work accomplishments, often times we aren’t able to capture learning together. My second grader gets the brunt of his work done while my toddler naps. In the beginning I would set up our computers side-by-side and expect him to figure it out. His productivity was low, and my frustration was high. I have now dedicated the first quarter of our time to learn something with him. We do his work together. I ask him questions about what he thinks and prompt him to think about pieces of his work a little deeper. He still needs direction to stay focused and accomplish his list of coursework but showing him from the beginning that I’m invested has helped us to build a connection through his schoolwork.
Lunch Business Makes Way for Dinner Prep Bonding
Nicole and I talked about lunchtime being a theoretical attention time, but it rarely works out that way. By circumstance, it’s a time that we know the kids are sitting and occupied which frees up a chance to throw in laundry and send a quick email. Dinner prep has been a new activity we do together. Nicole tasks her older daughter to feed the baby, Oliver is tasked with cutting up veggies or making drinks, and my two-year-old, Eleanor, throws silverware on the table. It’s chaotic and fun and we are together.
Post-Dinner Family Activity
You work the whole day to get to dinner and after it’s done there’s still a chunk of time before bedtime starts. Some days this time can be daunting but Nicole and I have agreed that it can be a time to fill your child’s attention cup. Nicole shared, “Kennedy has come up with a game where she puts colors in a cup then you find that color in the house and hide behind it.” We’ve played hide and seek, built a fire and told stories, and dusted off some board games. No matter what works for your family, intentionally using this time to put your phone down and connect with your kids while making for a smoother bedtime routine.
As we round out our list of opportunities, we must acknowledge that building in more connection time is mutually beneficial in that it helps us to feel like better moms allowing us to feel better about that aspect of our lives and perpetuating more positive interactions with our children.
Thanks so much, Nicole Poff for your help and invaluable insights for this article. Please visit her at meetings&motherhood on Instagram.
What attention pockets have been working for your family? Please share!