3 Ways to Get Your Kids Undivided Attention

What with television, video games, the internet, and all the other distractions of the modern age, I know that sometimes it can be difficult to get your kid’s attention…especially if they’re young like mine are.

In my almost 11 years of being a parent, I’ve picked up on 3 simple ways to immediately get the attention of young children.  Here they are:

1–      Attempt to have a conversation with your spouse about something other than the kids– Now, if one of your children drew on the walls with a magic marker or got sent to the principal’s office and you try to discuss THAT with your spouse, the child in question will be nowhere to be found.  But just try to start a conversation with the phrase “So…how was your day, honey?”  and it’s like throwing a side of beef into the lion’s den.

Within 11 seconds, all of your kids will be standing right on top of you saying “What’s for dinner, Mom?  I’m hungry, Mom.  Can you help me with my homework, Dad?  Has anyone seen my shoes?  What are you guys talking about?”

This is your children’s way of reminding you that as the two big people in the house, your job is to provide food, clothing, and shelter…..and that’s it.  You and your spouse having meaningful grown up interaction of any kind is not anywhere to be found on a child’s priority list. 

2–      Attempt to make a phone call–  On the rare occasions that my house is completely silent, I’ve learned that breaking the silence involves little more than picking up the phone.  Now kids are smart…so they wait until that exact moment when you can no longer politely say “Can I call you back in a minute?” before they hit you with full crisis mode:  “Daaaaad…..Evan’s looking at me funny!  Daaaad, Jo Jo is sticking raisins up her nose!  Daaaaad…..my foot is itchy!”

 The more important the phone conversation, the bigger the perceived crisis in kid-dom.  And if you’re on the phone with one of those quiet talkers, kids can sense this and it just encourages them to encourage them to shout….EVEN…..LOUDER!

 It must be built into the species or something because I swear to you I’ve had random neighbor kids just walk into my house and stand next to me while I’m on the phone.  When I say, “What are you doing?  They say, “I don’t know.  Something just told me to come in here and stand next to you…”

 Which leads me to wonder:  back in the pioneer days before we had telephones, how did kids know when it was time to bug their parents?

 3–      Attempt to use the bathroom– I swear, there must be a sign on the bathroom door in my house that says something to the effect of “Don’t be fooled by the fact that the door is closed.  Dad is in here and he’s REALLY lonely…please come in!”  Anne and I teach the kids that potty time is alone time but apparently they think this only applies when THEYRE on the potty. 

 Daddy, what are you doing?

Playing poker with the king of Siam…what’s it look like I’m doing?

 Dad, what are you reading? 

War and Peace….I’ll be out when I finish it.

 Dad, what’s for dinner? 

Not a question we should discuss right now, I don’t think.

 Daddy, do you need help?  No I think I can handle it honey,

But in about 50 years, ask me again.  The answer will be different. 

 I’ve been told that when my kids hit teenage years, I’ll long for the days when they were little but at the moment, I’m looking forward to that day in the future when I can talk on the phone, use the potty, AND have a meaningful conversation with my spouse…..though not necessarily all at the same time.

One Comment

  • The fact is that this all gets worse when they’re teenagers. “I have to have the phone now, Mom![Girlfriend/boyfriend} is calling me on that number!” “I have to do my makeup in this bathroom! Can’t you do that somewhere else?” “Why are you talking to each other? I have to ask your permission right now to go to Susie/Bob/whoever’s house next week!” It took years for the Empty Nest thing to hit after my last child moved out!

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