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Swimlabs blog

Friday, August 06, 2021 by Steven Auger

Empowering Children with Positive Attention

Any parent who has multiple children will tell you that each child is unique. Siblings can have different personalities, traits, likes, and desires. And it is up to the parents to figure out how each child ticks.

But one trait almost all children share is that they crave attention from their parents. Here are three ways that positive attention impacts a child along with some tips on how to give it.

Reduces Poor Behavior

There’s an old adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. If only it were that easy. But apply that logic to a child’s behavior.

When children receive regular positive attention from their parents, episodes of, shall we say, less than desirable behavior are greatly reduced. Children learn to associate the positive attention they receive with the good behavior they exhibit. That helps them to understand that poor behavior will elicit a negative response from their parents. So, episodes of fighting with their siblings, yelling, and tantrums are greatly reduced.

Increases Self-Esteem and Confidence

Self-esteem and confidence are important parts of a child’s development. The two characteristics go hand-in-hand as one helps lead to the other.

A child’s self-esteem receives a direct boost when they hear positive praise from their parents that results from a certain behavior or action. The recognition makes the child feel important and valued. That positive reinforcement is what causes a rise in the child’s self-esteem.

When a child has their self-esteem elevated, their self-worth becomes stronger. That increase in self-worth leads to a confidence boost.

Children who have a strong self-esteem and are confident in themselves will most likely carry that into their adult lives. And that will aid them in dealing with challenges that they’ll face as adults.

Bond Building

Parents and children who have strong bonds as adults often build those bonds when the children are young. Bond building can be done in short segments daily. That works well for both parents and children. Some children have a short attention span and some parents, as hectic as life is, might be used to only giving children their divided attention.

Build a strong bond with your child through developing a “check-in” habit by participating in an event or activity that they both enjoy such as board games or arts and crafts. Positive attention expressed through activities works to strengthen the parent-child bond. 

Ways to Show Attention

Giving your children positive attention might seem daunting. You don’t need to plan entire days involving trips or adventures that focus on nothing but your children. Instead, you can incorporate small, yet positive, gestures into everyday life. These gestures will be especially effective on a child who has a short attention span. They also work well with children of any age.

  • Smile at your child: Smiles beget smiles.
  • Use positive words: Encourage your child with positive words.
  • Make eye contact: Show your child that they have your total focus.
  • Be physically affectionate: Give your child lots of hugs and kisses.
  • Show interest: Let your children see that you are interested in their interests and activities.
  • Put the screen away: Children deserve undivided attention from their parents.

School-Age Children

Prior to starting school, you are your children’s world. That changes when they enter school. Their world has now greatly expanded. But positive attention still plays a large role in their development. School increases the opportunities to interact with your child in a variety of ways.

Sometimes your child will want to talk to you about school. Seize that opportunity no matter when it occurs.

You can also ask your child to tell you about one good thing that happened during the school day. Use follow-up questions to continue to the conversation and get your child to keep talking.

Point out when your child has positive interactions with their friends. Start conversations about those subjects.

Parenting can seem like one long list of endless responsibilities, least of all are the children. No matter how busy parents are, children will make every attempt to get their attention. Practicing positive attention with your kids is the ideal way to minimize having to give them negative attention.