July 27, 2007

Thirty Second Burst of Attention

As I mentioned yesterday, children love attention and will do anything to get it. When my children were young they would try to get my attention while I was on the phone. I'd be attempting a conversation with my friend Brenda while my son was tugging on my pants leg trying to show me a rock or trying to talk me into letting him have a cookie. How frustrating for both me and my son. I wonder if Brenda could sense she also wasn't getting my undivided attention?

Last week I attended a two day play therapy conference which featured Garry Landreth. He is known for his writing and work in promoting play therapy. He suggested that when a child is needing your attention you stop what you're doing and give him a "Thirty Second Burst of Attention."

When I was on the phone with Brenda and my son approached me I could have said, "Excuse me for thirty seconds, Brenda." I then put down the phone, get down on my son's level, look him in the eye and say, "I have thirty seconds to listen. What do you need to tell me?" As he would share with me his enthusiasm over the rock he found, I would nod my head to communicate that I am listening and that I care about what he is saying. At the end of thirty seconds I would say, "John, thanks for sharing that with me. Now I'm going to finish my conversation with Brenda."

John's need for attention would have been satisfied in thirty seconds. Thirty seconds! Not a hardship at all on my time.

I wonder if those thirty second bursts of attention work on husbands?


SusieQ said...

or cats. Whenever I'm on the phone Bandit shows up and butts my face with his head. :-)

sixstringlynette said...

I'm going to try this with my four-year-old! Couldn't hurt with co-workers, either! Are you just supposed to do one 30-second burst? What if they keep bugging you?

Pam Dyson, MA, PLPC said...

As a general rule of thumb, when you give a child undivided attention, even as little as thirty seconds, it will meet their immediate need for attention. Try it and let me know how it works for you.