Friday, June 26, 2015

30 Second Burst of Attention

I remember when my mom would talk on the phone as a kid, and I would keep bothering her, asking her questions, and talking to her like she wasn't on the phone at all.  Because as kids we are all that matters right? We need and deserve all the attention and can't understand how on earth our parents have a life without us.

Ha, I remember her saying to me, as she cupped the phone with her hand so the other person couldn't hear, "I'm on the phone! Go and play!" But I would keep talking to her because obviously the other person on the line just didn't exist.  My poor mom.  Now I can totally relate. It is impossible to make a phone call. Thank goodness for a quick text.  But trying to make a real phone cal, or talk to another grown up next to you, can really only happen when my kids are asleep or during 'rest' time.

As I was complaining to one of my play therapist friends about it, she reminded me of the:

"30 Second Burst of Attention"

It's where you notice your child acting out for attention, so you stop what you are doing, give them 30 seconds of undivided attention, and then go back to what you were doing.  The theory is that your child gets louder and more disruptive when they notice you not paying attention to them.  So by giving them a short burst of attention, they will be satisfied and can go back to playing peacefully. well for maybe 1 minute at least.

Now that I am a parent I've realized more than ever that Kids need LOTS of attention.

I was skeptical of this 'burst of attention' technique when she reminded me of it again. It sounded great in grad school when I wasn't a parent yet, but now? It seems it would teach your child that it's okay to be disruptive, get your parents to drop everything, give kids the attention they want at any time, and then go on playing.

I am more along the lines of teaching children patience, and that sometimes we have to learn to wait for things.  Play therapy is completely different in that as a therapist we give the child 45-50 minutes of full, undivided attention.  But real life is not a therapy session.  So I try to balance the child-directed approach as a regular parent with my child.

So I decided to give the attention burst my own twist.  I have learned to warn my kids before I have to make an important phone call. Sometimes that means turning on their favorite TV show :)  But


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