BREAKING NEWS: Sometimes kids struggle to communicate directly or effectively. More on this shocking new revelation at 10:00.
Yeah, no. Not such a big surprise, right? Whether they’re telling you at bedtime that they’re in charge of tomorrow’s class snack, or you find out the “toy they accidentally broke” was actually the television at which they threw a football, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest young kids are still developing clear communication skills.
However, kids are also clever, and they have a way of compensating. Our children have different ways of sending signals to let us know their needs, even if those ways aren’t straight forward or direct. We as parents get to be code-breakers!
One of our kids’ biggest, most overlooked needs is connection. That’s right: basically love and attention. What signs to they send us when they’re lacking in that area? Unfortunately, the signals often come in the form of triggering interruptions. But if we’re ready for them, and if we understand the needs that lie beneath the behavior, we can respond with love and understanding. Here are four signs and behaviors that probably mean your child is seeking more connection with you.
1. Asking “watch me” over and over again.
Do you really need to watch them do a somersault for the 10th time in 5 minutes? Probably not. Are you kids convinced that you really saw them the first time, and that you were genuinely impressed and happy for their accomplishment? Maybe not.
What they may be looking for is a dedicated moment from you to show interest in their ability, for you to ask them some questions about it, and show genuine appreciation. And when they’re done and you tell them you’re proud, you can ask them if they feel proud of themselves, which sets the foundation for a little more self validation in the future.
2. Persistently trying to help you.
That thing you’re doing—you know the one—it’s keeping you from giving your full attention to your child. Well, you know what they say: if you can’t beat them, join them. Yes, that’s right, your kid recognizes that making dinner, or paying bills, or sitting on that conference call is your priority right now. If they can make themselves a part of that, then they just might get themselves a little bit of the love and attention that your sales report is getting.
So you know what? Let them help. If they’re interested in participating, find a way for them to do that, even if you need to make up a job for them to do. “Could you please take this notepad and number the pages for me? It would help a ton!” They’ll feel included, and you might get a few extra moments of quiet to finish your task.
3. Crying and fussing.
Nobody appreciates a crying kid, but let’s face it: it’s a thing they do. They learned from the moment they came into the world that crying and fussing was a way to get attention. Sometimes it takes a little while for them to unlearn that lesson.
When they come to you tearfully or with a little extra whine, take a deep breath, and ask them to take one, too. Then, using loving language, see if you can diagnose their need. It may just be a little love and attention they’re after.
4. Asking tons of questions.
A great way to engage anyone, to get anyone to talk to you, is to ask them some good questions. You know this as an adult, and guess what: your kids figured that out long ago, as well. Okay, so your kid probably isn’t asking you any super engaging, deeply thoughtful questions, but in their world, it’s important stuff.
So let’s treat their questions like they’re important. Treat their concerns as if they’re valid. Why do dogs bark? When is my birthday coming again? Why can’t I fly? Yup, there are things on your child’s mind, and they’d sure love some thoughtful input from you, their most loving and trusted friend.
Finding ways to connect with your child doesn’t have to be complicated! Sitting with them and listening attentively goes a long way. Your kids can tell when you’re being sincere, or when you’ve got 5 other things you’d rather be doing. Make sure they understand, for at least a moment, that they’re the center of your universe, and you couldn’t love them more if you tried.
If you need more help responding to those interruptions from kids (they sure can be triggering, can’t they?) then check out our Parenting Rewind scripts, available to Professional and Family members. That’s right members, you already have this resource! Just check under activity kits on your dashboard! Not yet a member? What are you waiting for? Jump on in!