Is it natural for my child to want my attention constantly?

“Look! I’m going to jump off the diving board.”

“Dad, watch me ride my bike.”

“Mom, see how I fix my hair.”

“Watch, I’m going to do a cartwheel.”

Children constantly ask their parents to pay attention. Even in the car, a child will ask a parent who’s driving to look at a picture in his notebook or watch him make faces in the mirror. He doesn’t think about what his parents are doing, only about his immediate desire to be watched. Sometimes these calls for attention are delightful. Sometimes they’re annoying.

A child does a lot of things he considers exciting, and he wants to share them with his parents. As he perfects a skill or does something new, he wants to be acknowledged and praised. Kids thrive on attention and positive feedback from parents. They want to hear, “Terrific,” “Great job,” “Nice throw,” “Good try.” Since parents don’t always pay attention spontaneously, children say, “Watch me!” again and again.

Parents often underestimate the importance of watching. Those who do pay attention, especially without being asked, send a strong message of acceptance and love. A child who believes he’s interesting and important enough to capture his parents’ attention will develop a healthy self-image. A child who has trouble attracting their attention will feel that what he does isn’t valuable enough.

Parents can learn a great deal about their child’s interests and abilities by watching him participate in activities. However, they should be careful about offering unasked for advice. A child who says, “Watch me,” wants approval, not coaching. One boy who used to say, “Watch me play baseball!” gradually lost interest because of his father’s constant instructions: “Hold your glove like this. Lift your arm higher when you throw. Let me show you how to hit the ball.” The boy’s enjoyment faded because—whatever his father’s real intentions—the boy heard only criticism.

You may find that you are, as most adults, engrossed in your own activities. There are phone calls to make, bills to pay, laundry to do, repairs to make. When you’re occupied, you may not want to take time and watch your child perform some seemingly trivial activity. Yet, childhood years go by quickly and children’s requests are reasonable and increasingly infrequent. A few minutes of acknowledgment and interest (solicited or unsolicited) can enhance his view of himself and give you something to think about and remember. Once it’s too late, many parents wish they’d spent more time “watching” when their children were young.

Picture Credit : Google