We all know that we need to pay attention to our kids. When little Johnny is throwing a tantrum at the store, or Abigail says a bad word, there always seems to be a family member around who is happy to remind us that they’re “just trying to get our attention.” We immediately feel guilty because this comment implies that we are inattentive parents. Teachers and therapists all talk about attention seeking behaviors in children. In my work, I rarely focus on attention seeking or giving, but rather on parenting and teaching from a place of intention.
Attention involves having an awareness of, an interest in, or noticing what your children are doing. Intention involves having a purpose, goal, aim, or target for your children. Attention often keeps us on the defensive, whereas intention requires us to take an offensive approach. My son’s basketball coach loves to say, “crowds are won through defensive maneuvers, but games are won through offense.” I agree. Parenting may look impressive in the short-term using a defensive strategy, but long-term rewards are realized through an offensive approach. Intentional parents are always actively engaged and naturally attentive.