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A is for Attention

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Positive attention is a powerful way of reinforcing good behavior. Show your kids that you notice when they do well.

How often do you notice when your child is doing the right thing, doing well and behaving? Do you acknowledge this? Reward them? Do you show them love and affection? Is there special time spent with each child, cuddle time, reward time? If your child receives no positive feedback, how are they to know that you appreciate their efforts to behave, that you are proud of them, and that you love them?

Each of your children needs their own special time with mom, dad, or both, individual attention, one-to-one, and not shared with siblings. Parents may find that they are giving all of their attention to the child who misbehaves and none to the child who is doing the right thing. Different aged children have different needs based on their age, making it hard for parents to juggle time and find a balance.

Do your children receive rewards for good behavior? And what form does it take? It could be in the form of praise, a sticker on a chart, a treat, toy, or outing. Or do you find yourself going overboard and making the reward much larger than the behavior warrants, perhaps out of a sense of guilt that you weren't able to spend more time with the child. However, gifts and treats can't make up for the time missed and even though your child seems happy to receive the treat, you are setting yourself and your child up for difficulties that will come during the time that you don't reward with a treat. One parent tells a story about her son, saying that every pay day was their special treat time with a stop at McDonald's and then to the toy store for a prize, until one day she woke to the realization that she was creating an expectation in her son that could become never-ending, and so she explained to him that this would not be happening anymore and changed treats to a much more sparse event and used library time or movie time together rather then their prior trips.

And what method do you use for negative behaviors? These behaviors also bring attention but is it in the form of shouting at your child or losing your temper? Do you set a good example and model the correct behavior? Are you using time out and are you being consistent? Children know when you are making empty threats and learn to ignore you. And when you correct your child's behavior, do you explain why or do you just say "because I told you to?" And do your methods work so that you don't find yourself correcting the same behaviors over and over?

Every child needs the attention of their parents. Parents who are paying attention to their children are more likely to have a good relationship with their child, and have better compliance. Parents who ignore their children will find themselves correcting the same behaviors over and over again, and often not getting compliance as the children are used to doing whatever they want. Which kind of parent are you? Think about it and remember that parents are their child's first teacher.

If you are looking for a good selection of child development books, check out your local library in Vineland or Millville, or make a trip to Millville to Bogart's Books, a local book exchange.

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