In one of my latest one on one coaching sessions, we were dealing with a little guy who wanted lots of attention and power around his house. Mom and dad were feeding the attention that was negative and it kept repeating until they shifted their attention on catching him being good. Yeah!!! Mom and Dad!!! Action plan one accomplished.
They were still struggling with behaviors and it usually showed up when they were busy doing their mom and dad “work”… He wanted attention and they were too busy working around the house to give it to him. We decided that this little guy was like his mom and dad in many ways including his need to stay busy and feel purpose… So we Hired him!
We’ve all been there… Your child wants your attention and you are have a “laundry list” of things that you HAVE to get done. Kids love work and these moments are the best chance you can get to kill two birds with one stone. Involve your child in your work. They will get the attention and purpose they crave and they may even learn a few new skills along the way.
Remember these tips when doling out work:
You have to make the work involve choice where the child get’s to choose what they do.
Do you want to shred mommy’s mail after I go through it?
Do you want to be my delivery boy and walk all the laundry to the bedrooms?
He might say neither, so you can say, “I am doing my mommy work and if you would like to come up with another way to help me let me know. Otherwise, I will let you know when I am done so we can do something together.” Then get busy doing a little more of your work. Maybe he will come towards you and you can say, “Are you ready to choose something to do to help or do you just want to be near me?” If he stays near you involve him in your thought process or engage with him while you work.
You can’t expect him to wait forever… Chunk your work so you can take a pausing break in the middle and try to reconnect offering him another job or taking five minutes to connect (read a book, play a little legos, help him set up a race track).
Make sure not to be too critical or expect perfection. They will do work that mirrors their skill and developmental level of understanding. Know that with each new job experience they will make little bits of progress but this will not happen overnight.
Make sure to add in the positive specialized attention time too, to balance out their need to play and work…
Make the work pretend or silly and you will be more likely to get a positive response from your child.
Giving kids mini jobs really helps them in their search for purpose and attention and power. They get to control their day a little and act like a big person who is important and needed, and you get a chance to give them positive feedback on how they are doing.