30 Second Burst of Attention

(Adapted from Garry Landreth and Sue Bratton: Child Parent Relationship Therapy)

Can you remember a time when you tried to tell someone about something that was important to you and they didn’t even look up from their phone? Maybe they pretended to pay attention, but it was obvious their mind was elsewhere. What did that feel like to you?

Here is an important concept to remember: the things our children are trying to tell us are important to them. Here is a little technique to try. When you are busy and your child is also trying to talk to you, try giving her a Thirty Second Burst of Attention.

This is how it might play out: If you are on the telephone and your child is also trying to tell you something, say to the person on the other end of the line, “Can you hold for 30 seconds? I’ll be right back.” Put the phone aside, bend down and give your child your undivided, focused attention for 30 seconds; then say tot he child, “Thank you for sharing that with me. Now I have to finish talking to ____.” Stand back up and continue your phone call.

Here is another scenario: You are busy preparing dinner and your child is trying to tell you something. Say, “I am working hard to get dinner ready, but I also really want to hear what you have to say.” Get on the child’s level and give her your focused attention for 30 seconds; then say, “I need to get back to making dinner now. Thank you for sharing that with me.” Continue with your work.

Your attention is like gold bullion to your child. It only takes 30 seconds to show your child she is important to you. Don’t take my word for it. Give it a try this week and see how it works.

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