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Oregon Family Magazine

Positive Attention Through Play

10/30/2021 ● By Meredith Tufts
A close, nurturing, and responsive relationship is the single most important factor affecting our children’s well-being. One of the most powerful ways we can strengthen our relationship with our children is through Positive Attention Through Play.

Positive Attention Through Play is an important way to connect with our children and help them learn about themselves and the world around them. Attention is a basic need, and getting positive attention means a lot to children. They cannot thrive without it. 

Positive attention can also prevent misbehavior, especially when the misbehavior is driven by children’s basic need for attention. Believe it or not, some kids will act out in frustration, just to be noticed. Try to notice them for doing things that you like! 

During your busy day, it can be challenging to find time to sit down and play with your child. But you can fill your child’s “CUP” with moments of positive attention through play during regular, daily activities including dinner time, bathtime, bedtime,  or simply walking to the bus stop. These are all great opportunities to create special time with your child. 

How to fill your child’s “CUP” with special time:

C – Child chooses activity

U – Undivided Attention

P – Predictable 

Parenting Educator and Program Manager at Parenting Now, Meredith Tufts, recommends the following activities because they “encourage connection and active movement to engage playfully with our children.”

For infants: Mirror, Mirror

“Find a time when you aren't distracted or multitasking and when your baby is in a cheerful mood. Sit or lay with your baby. Copy their sounds and movements and watch for them to notice you copying them. For young babies it may take a while, but many love that ‘Aha!’ moment of discovering that you are copying their movements and sounds.” 

For older toddlers and preschoolers: Charades

Charades is a game where you have to act out something and the other person has to guess who or what you are. “With young children, movements, sounds, and words are all fine -- anything goes as you get silly acting out different things for each other to guess! It may help to pick a theme (vehicles, animals, things in our neighborhood, etc).” 

Let your child take the lead when it comes to play. Watch and imitate what your child is doing. By doing this, you send the message, “You have good ideas, and I enjoy playing in your world.”