What would happen if we gave our kids ALL our attention?
I love the Scummy Mummies! They are a comedy duo who host a hilarious podcast for ‘for less-than-perfect parents’. I could blog about every one, they are hilarious, talk honestly about the messiness of parenthood and are seriously informative! I’ll start with one for now though…
I recently listened to a podcast where Ellie Gibson and Helen Thorn (the Scummy Mummies) chatted to brilliant psychotherapist, Philippa Perry. It is hilarious, fascinating and thought provoking.
They discuss parenting, including why we should celebrate our children lying, and what to do if we lose our temper, and marriage/relationships, including whether it’s OK to argue. It’s packed full of excellent topics but the one I’ve been reflecting on most since is about attention-seeking.
In answer to the question, “how do we stop our children attention seeking?” (The version on the podcast is more like, “how do we stop our kids from being a*seholes?”!) Philippa discusses how the answer is to give our kids ALL of our attention all the time! This is actually something we already do in our house so it’s reassuring to hear a psychotherapist give that advice and it’s something I wanted to share as I’m convinced that it’s having a huge impact for us.
So, what does it look like to give our kids all of our attention? It means that, even when we’d rather get on with all our chores to get them done quickly, we invite them to be part of what we’re doing. For example, if we’re loading the washing machine we invite him to load the washing and help do the powder, if we’re laying the table we offer him the opportunity to carry various items to the table or if we’re hoovering we invite him to help hold the hoover, or to move things out of the way. Sure, at first this means the clothes end up all over the floor, the cutlery gets dropped and the hoovering takes for ever. Everything takes longer and everything is messier but we’ve committed to always inviting the little guy in and it’s really been worthwhile.
Our little one is very independent, he loves doing his own thing. I’m sure that part of that is down to the fact that he is so assured of the fact he can be with us all the time if he wants to, but that he can also choose not to be. Now, more often than not, when I invite him to join me, he peers over at me, shakes his head and goes back to whatever he’s doing.
My kid is not an ar*ehole (for want of a better word). He doesn’t exhibit much attention seeking behaviour (apart from to entertain!) When he picks up a new toy he brings it over for us to say what we think then he toddles off again to play. When we’re doing chores he either joins in or he potters off to play.
Sure, it may feel full on at first. When we invite our kid into everything and they join in by spreading socks around the house, or dropping cutlery all over the floor, it’s bound to be a bit stressful. But, when it clicks that they can have your attention but they can choose to do their own thing it’s transformational. (And, my little guy often loads the washing machine of his own accord now. Sure, sometimes it’s the clean washing back into the machine but it’s definitely the thought that counts!)
What do you guys reckon? What would it look like if you invited your kid into everything and gave them ALL your attention? What impact would it have?
Listen to Philippa Perry’s podcast with the Scummy Mummies here for more excellent tips and browse the other podcasts here.