The Power of Positive Parental Attention
The Power of Positive Parental Attention
The attention we give our children plays a monumental role in determining how they will grow and develop.
Humans are social creatures, and as such, we require regular, positive attention to properly develop social skills and a healthy mind.
Positive parental attention is one of the best ways to provide your children with a basic level of social attention. Our children look up to us as models for healthy adulthood.
When our children are misbehaving, the natural response for parents is to point out the misbehavior. When we correct our children, it often comes in the form of yelling or scolding, but this response oftentimes backfires.
Giving children positive, instead of negative, attention is more impactful on children’s behavior. In short, praise for the behavior you want from your children produces better results than chastising negative behavior you do not want.
Positive attention is undoubtedly the best method for producing positive behavior from your children. But what do we mean when we say “positive attention,” and how does focusing on the positive instead of the negative differ from ignoring negative behavior?
Keep reading and we will give you the secrets to becoming a positive attention pro.
What is Positive Attention?
Before you can use it, you need to be able to define positive attention.
Positive attention is essentially a shift in perspective on child behavior. The focus is placed on praising and reinforcing positive behavior instead of scolding and punishing negative behavior.
Positive attention does not mean never telling your children “No,” or ignoring negative behaviors (you can still correct undesirable behavior and issue constructive punishments). Instead, it means using positive parenting skills to focus mainly on praising good behavior to produce desired results.
How to Implement Positive Attention in Your Parenting Playbook
It can be hard to envision what positive attention parenting will look like, especially if you are used to more traditional parenting strategies.
Positive attention can take many forms. Some examples include verbal praise, hugs, kisses, high fives, or even small rewards.
Be as descriptive and specific as possible in your praise so your child knows exactly what they did so that they can replicate the behavior in the future.
Let’s look at an example.
Your child is playing on the playground. Another child falls down and is visibly upset. Your child helps the hurt child to their feet, brushes the mulch from their pant leg, and asks them if they should get a grown-up.
Instead of saying “You did a great job on the playground today!” be more specific.
Try saying “I love how you helped your friend feel better when he was hurt! That was awesome!”
That way your child will know exactly what they did well and how they should continue to behave in the future.
This approach will vary depending on your child's age group. You will not want to use the same approach on kindergarteners as you will on teenagers.
No matter their age, telling your child that you appreciate their behavior will make them feel good and they will be more likely to behave well in the future.
How Do I Handle Bad Behavior?
Confronting negative behavior is one of the most difficult roles you have as a parent.
If your child is engaging in behavior that is dangerous to themselves or others, intervene immediately, and let them know that their behavior was unacceptable.
However, if your child is engaging in undesirable behavior that is not posing a safety threat, it is better to withdraw your attention from your child. Then, provide positive attention when they stop the undesirable behavior.
This strategy is called "active ignoring," and it can be challenging to master.
You can also try redirecting your child's attention to something else, by bringing up one of their interests or mentioning something exciting happening soon.
Here’s an example.
Your child is throwing a temper tantrum because they broke a toy.
Instead of yelling at your child to stop or telling them, they are bad for screaming and crying, ignore them until the tantrum passes.
After their emotions have settled tell them you are proud that they stopped crying on their own and praise them for their now-good behavior. In short, deprive them of attention during instances of undesirable behavior, and give them positive attention when they return to a more desirable state.
If you cannot get your child to stop negative behavior from active ignoring, consult with a mental health specialist.
Better Parenting Strategies with Child Focus
Becoming the best parent you can be is not an easy task. It takes a lot of hard work and discipline.
It also takes the best resources available to you.
At Child Focus, we are committed to offering parents better resources to help them improve their skills as parents.
We offer early learning, behavioral health, and parenting programs as well as education and training services.
If you are ready to take the next step to enhance your parenting skills, reach out to Child Focus today!