3 Steps to Raising Happy Kids
Updated: Jun 26, 2019
If a child has the choice between stale potato chips and fresh potato chips, which would they reach for? Well, the obvious choice of the two for any child would be the one that tastes fresher. But what if there were only the stale variety and nothing else?
This analogy can be applied to your child’s need for attention. When any child lacks enough attention, they tend to seek out negative attention because any type of attention is better than no attention at all. This is known as “The Law of the Soggy Potato Chip", according to Catch Them Being Good, a guidebook and training program for positive parenting created by Dr. Jody Kussin.
All children crave attention. And the best kind to offer is positive attention.
If a child is given adequate attention, they tend to show their appreciation by not acting out or seeking negative attention. In other words, most children give back what they receive.
1. Plan Ahead
The best strategy for providing attention involves planning in advance. A child who knows of the upcoming special time activity has a lot to look forward to. No hard rule exists regarding how much advance notice to provide. So, vary based on your child’s age or temperament.
2. Vary the Activity
Attending to a child does not have to cost anything, but varying it helps. Activities such as going for walks, playing imaginative games, making art, collecting rocks, playing a sport, visiting a museum, attending a public garden, hiking, biking, reading stories, cooking, baking, and learning an instrument together are just a few examples.
3. Dedicate Time for Transitions
Special time is also important around times that children often find scary or difficult to transition into. For example, special bedtime rituals can help calm an anxious child. It is an opportunity to provide the child with an adequate transition to restful sleep. These routines create predictability that all children look forward to.
All children need adults who can consistently and mindfully attend to them. It's essential for healthy childhood development. Parents and children both benefit in the long-run. To consider additional methods of special time, parents can speak to their educational therapist about different ways they can dedicate special time at home.