In a world of instant gratification and limitless possibilities, parents are constantly ON. We work so hard to make sure our children have food and shelter but one of the most important things they need from us gets pushed to the back burner- Our Attention! Read on for the why and how to fill your kid’s attention cup.
Parents constantly have work, life goals and the knowledge of how to complete these things flowing through our fingertips- PHONES. It’s ironic, in this life we work so hard to simplify things to have more time for the important stuff, it seems that time just shrinks. Our kids are important stuff. We should be using some of that saved time on them but that limitless connection blinds us!
I am here to remind you! Don’t let that constant connection keep you from the important stuff! Filling your kiddo’s Attention cup is as important to their development as feeding them!
What is an Attention Cup?
We all have them. When someone goes out of their way to spend time with you, talk to you, play with you and show you that you are important- your cup gets filled. It feels good. You feel happy. For kids, it is one of the most important things we can do for them. It is important to model how to fill those cups with positive, loving, good attention.
Why is the Attention Cup so Important?
Think about yourself? How do you function when you feel happy? When you feel loved? I know I work harder! With a full attention cup kids have better behavior, better academics, and even better health!
When they don’t get the attention they crave and need… some not so good behaviors can come out. Whining, fighting, bored reactions, and overall poor choices are some of the empty attention cup results.
When you are done working for the day and your kiddo comes home or wakes up from a nap how does your kiddo act? Hungry, whiny, clingy?
You might be distracted getting dinner ready, answering that last work email, or squishing a workout in. It might feel impossible to give your kids attention when you have a million more things to do before your day is over but… you need to. Stop what you have streaming through your head and fingers and give them some attention. Trust me it will be easier to complete the tasks you are focusing on once you give your child the attention they are craving.
Ways to fill your Kid’s Attention Cup
Helping with Tasks Around the House
Back in the day, when most people were farmers and tradesmen, they taught their children their skills. Kids learned and worked with their parents. Parents could be present and attention cup filling while they worked.
Cooking, cleaning, and yard work are all times you can fill their attention cups with experience and learning. Just remember to have patience when trying this one. It will not be a fun fulfilling experience if you don’t have the time to let them try!
Share a Hobby or Interest
Do you need to work out? Get your kid doing so right with you. Do you have a favorite sport? Get them playing (or watching) as well. Crafting is something I share with my kids. They have watched and joined me in enough creations that now they create on their own sometimes.
Fishing, Golf, Star Wars… the possibilities are endless. Filling your kid’s Attention cup will be easier if you do so using things you enjoy!!
Parents, you know how important this is. It doesn’t have to be about teaching them to read. Filling the attention cup can just be kids listening to a story.
When they get older it might even be sitting side by side reading quietly. Making this part of your nighttime routine is an easy way to know you are always adding something to that cup.
Play with Them
How many times am I asked, “play with me”? So many. This one can be a challenge. It requires me to turn off that working brain of mine. I have to let go of completing tasks and take some time to pretend! But think about how good it feels when someone shares an interest with you? Just do it. Lego building, barbie or doll roll play- let your child choose and they will love it!
This form of attention can take a lot of work and I don’t recommend doing this one after a long hard day of work. Save it for a lazy Saturday after everyone has slept in and you don’t have any pressing grown-up matters pulling at your time.
It could be somewhere new or old but taking the time to reach a destination together can be very attention cup filling. This can give you some time to practice some of those other attention cup filling ideas like talking, reading, and family time.
Having a goal to complete while spending time together is a helpful tip to keep you focused. Focusing on a goal makes you forget about those thoughts that keep you from being present with your kiddo and enjoying the moment
Play together, again just like I mentioned before. Board games, puzzles, imaginary games, listen to music and dance together, create traditions together or enjoy old ones.
You can even watch TV together. Yes, I limit screen time but I really enjoy watching a show as a family. Bonus if you make them wait! This is a serious challenge with all the streaming. Waiting until everyone is home to watch or make a set time each week for your show. It teaches delayed gratification. It fosters a sense of anticipation you can share as a family unit!
Just Talk to Them About Anything and Everything
What you do why you do it etc. I found this fun post from a fellow blogger- 45 Funny Questions to Ask your Kids. I will be trying some of these out myself. Dinner time is the favorite time to do this is my house. We ask open-ended questions and the kiddos do the same for us. This is a great time to model purposeful listening skills. Looking at each other in the eye and being present in the conversation.
Subscribe to my email list today and I will send you 10 Open-Ended Questions to Ask Your Kid When they Get Home from School. This list will help you to not get those answers like, “I don’t know. I don’t remember, I didn’t learn anything.”
Is there such a thing as Bad Attention?
Yes! Sometimes your kid will crave that attention so badly their behavior gets -not so favorable. If you reward the bad behavior with the attention that is a no-no! The key here is to give attention before the bad behavior or after the bad behavior has been addressed.
Another kind of bad attention is when you only half give it. You are sitting with your child but still, have a phone in your hand. Try your best to be completely present for the very best results.
Some kids require more attention than others. More patience and more grace. Since every kid is different you have to choose what ideas will work best for you and your family. Think about your strengths as a parent and a person. Use those when you are filling the attention cup! It will make things easier and more enjoyable for both parents and kids. If bike riding is not your favorite hobby as a parent its not the best choice for attention cup filling for you with your kids.
When you are feeling the drain from those attention hogs seek help! Family, Partners, Husbands, Friends, Neighbors! The phrase “it takes a village” rings true. You need to take care of yourself and recharge sometimes. Having someone else to take a turn giving the attention is vital. You have to speak up for your own well being. “I am burnt out from this kid! Please Help!” Know that it is ok to not be 100% ON for your kids all of the time. It’s actually pretty impossible.
Ways you keep yourself Accountable
Make sure you put the work and phone down. Set aside the time to give your kids the attention they crave. If you do so now it can save you time later. Kids are happier to be independent once that attention cup is full. Read here to learn more about creating a Stay at Home Mom Schedule!
This one is easier said than done. If you are wanting to give your kiddo attention by getting them to help around the house you will have to be ready to be very patient. Teaching is all about patience. Sometimes the cup can fill twice as much if you are ready to wait for your kid.
Give Yourself Grace
Forgive yourself for not always being on point. Even parents who regularly fill their kid’s attention cups have moments of guilt and frustration. Tag in your partner, grandparent, or neighbor and take that time you need for yourself so you will be ready to start pouring into their cups again next time.