Teaching Children To Get Your Attention
“Attention, actually shared attention, is a fundamental human need. Adults and children thrive when they have relationships rich with experiences of shared attention.”
Young children can need a lot of attention from their caregivers and it is common for children to develop really irritating methods for getting your attention. Children are in fact very good at meeting their needs. Though adults often become frustrated and stuck in this situation if you’re able to step back and see the child trying to meet a fundamental need you will see their is an opportunity to teach your child how to get your attention in a way that meets your need for respect and harmony. Next time your child is whining, fussing, or pulling on you to try to get your attention, pause and teach them how to respectfully get your attention. We recommend saying, “Hey, I think you’re trying to get my attention by pulling my arm, I don’t like that. If you want my attention tap me on the leg and say, ‘excuse me daddy’.” You can use whatever respectful strategy you would, we commonly use tap me on the shoulder or squeeze my hand with a polite ‘I have something to say.’ or ‘Excuse me.’. After you tell your child how to get your attention, role play with them and ask them to give it a try. If the child practices this new way of getting your attention and it works then they will be more likely to use that tool the next time. Expect to practice a few times before it becomes a new habit!