An Easy Solution To Attention-Seeking Behavior

It never fails. As soon as I get on the phone, Tyler has to interrupt me to show me something or tell me something. I’ve explained to him that when I am on the phone he’s not to interrupt me unless it’s an emergency or something extremely urgent. Of course to him everything is urgent. Short of never having a conversation when he’s around or locking myself in the bathroom, what are my options? I understand that he does this to get my attention but it’s not fair, I cry. I should be able to have a conversation with someone without having him act out. Today I think I may have found a possible solution. It’s called a 30-second burst of attention.

I was reading an article about the benefits of playing with your kids in the June 2005 issue of ParentLife. The article recommended that all parents spend at least 30 minutes of child-focused play daily. This short and simple interaction does wonders for your child’s emotional health and well-being. Then the article mentioned that there are other times we as parents can use what the author calls “intentional focusing” to give our kids the attention that they crave. He called this time a 30-second burst of attention and says it works wonders.

If you are on the phone, for instance, and your child interrupts to show or tell you something, you are supposed to tell the person that you’re speaking with to excuse you for 30 seconds and then put the phone down and give all your attention to your child. Then give your child your undivided attention, allowing him to show you his drawing or tell you something “important”. When he’s finished tell him that you appreciate him sharing with you or showing you his drawing, etc. and then tell him that you are going to get back to your conversation. Then return to your call. According to the author of the article, a professor at the University of North Texas and an author of a book on play therapy, if you give your child this short burst of attention you will probably be able to continue your conversation without further interruptions.

Seems too simple but I’m willing to give it a shot. I’ll let you know if it works.

See also:

Allowing Your Child To Fail

Acknowledging Small Steps Your Kids Make

The Pitfalls of Praise