Tips for Getting, and Keeping, Your Child’s Attention
Psychologist Abigail James and Kathy Stevens, executive director of the Gurian Institute for parents and educators, offer the following tips:
* Put yourself on his level by squatting next to him (for children under age 5) or sitting in a chair while he’s standing.
* Try touching his shoulder, if necessary, to redirect his focus.
* Use fewer words, a firm voice and directive language without lecturing: “It’s time to get your shoes on.” Allow a little transition time.
* Don’t require eye contact. Looking a boy in the eye while discussing a problem makes him uneasy, James says.
* Try a joint task such as sorting laundry for a meaningful discussion.
* Use positive language (“You’re almost ready to go”) rather than confrontational language (“You’re not leaving the house until…” ) so he doesn’t begin to see every task as a negative.
* Skip the big picture. Boys will feel overwhelmed and tune you out. “Clean your room” is the big picture. Be specific about what you want him to pick up, and if he’s young, consider keeping him company. By middle school, you can say “It’s your job to do such-and-such,” and let him decide when and how he does it, James says.