Have you ever felt bad for saying no to your kid from doing the things he or she likes but it’s not good for him or her? Well, you shouldn’t because you are just being a responsible parent by doing that. But wait, have you been responsible enough to give the required amount of positive attention along with the negative consequences for wrongdoings? If not, then it’s time to change! A daily dose of ‘time in’ can significantly reduce the need for ‘time out’, when you want to parent your kid the right way. Parenting is a 24*7 job, and undoubtedly a parent needs to be attentive all the time, but at least for 15 minutes in a day, parents need to give their undivided attention to the kids. No phone, no television, no daily chores, and no multitasking. It should just be you and your kid. And while you do that, here’s a checklist for you to follow:
1) Stop asking, start listening: Stop quizzing your kid with too many questions, it might shut down their instinctive behavior and the desire to spend quality time with you. These 15 minutes that you are sparing for your child must not include questions or instructions like- which color is this? What’s 16*8? Will you sing a song for me? There shouldn’t be any sort of performance pressure over the kid during this time. You need to start listening to what your kid wants to say, try to get into their world, you may also try to participate in some kind of role play, just resist the urge to ask things that you want to know, and instead try listening to things they want to share.
2) Show interest in what your child is doing: The best method to initiate positive conversation is by expressing your interest on the things that your kid is doing or has recently started doing. Talk about their experiences of joining the art class, or how has been their experience of learning through videos, or how they like spending time with their pet? Questions like these will surely be welcomed by your kid and will help in strengthening your bond with them.
3) Feedback about the kind of behavior you want to encourage: This is the time for you to encourage all sorts of positive behavior that you have been observing. Express gratitude for when they helped you take care of their younger sibling, for bringing their plate to the kitchen and arranging their school bag for the next day. Make them understand how these little things help in making your life easier and how their good behaviour gets appreciated.
4) Ask follow-up questions to continue conversations: It is advisable to refrain from asking questions, but not always. Ask follow-up questions after a conversation has been initiated, like what happened next? What do you think he would have thought, when you said that? How do you manage to pull off things like that? Questions like these will not only make your kid aware about the fact that you’re interested in knowing more but will also make your kid open to more sharing in the future.
5) Pick an activity that you like doing together: The best time to have some interesting conversation is during an activity that you both like doing, or soon after you have finished it. Go for cycling, solve a puzzle together, have a match of an indoor game or an outdoor sport, just avoid games which involve a screen. Screen games consume too much of their attention as well as energy for them to be able to talk while playing.
6) Ask for their opinions: To be able to inculcate independence in your kid early on, in the short span of undivided attention that you dedicate to your child, ask for their opinions on matters that might be related to or not at all related them. Things like, what color do you think should I pick for getting that wall painted? What do you think made your teacher upset about your behavior? Why do you think missing classes frequently is not a good idea? Let them come up with their own answers and let them feel that their views and opinions are of significant value to you. This will not only encourage independent thinking but also positive behavior, because they will think twice before doing anything.
You are fulfilling the most important responsibility of being a parent by offering undivided attention and interesting conversation at least once every day. Remember, kids don’t just want attention, they need it and if parents fail in filling them up with positive attention, these children might engage in negative attention-seeking activities. Putting in some time now can save you from the trouble of putting in even more time as well as effort in disciplining your child later. By the way, the clock is ticking, have you given your kid the daily dose of positive attention yet?