EP14 – Kids Will Go To Extremes To Get Your Attention
Until you get to the root of the problem (attention) you will not solve it... and the solution is much easier than ignoring it
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How we doing? On today's episode of, I don't know Jack about parenting, I want to talk about how your kids are going to go to extremes to get your attention. So the question is, what are you doing to give them attention so they don't have to go to those extremes?
Tow do kids spell love?
Welcome to today's podcast about extremes kids will go to in order to receive your attention. One of my favorite memes I ever saw online anywhere it said, how do kids spell love? T I M E. Your attention, your time is what they desire most.
So what got me thinking about this? Um, I have a friend in my life who has a son who painted or colored the entire wall of a room one day now across the bottom as high as he could a reach and, you know, my friend did, I called him one day and he's like, I was like, well, what's going on? And you know, I won't use the verbiage that he used or language that he used, but he basically is like, I'm sitting here painting all day because my son sat there and painted the wall. Colored the walls with markers and crayons and whatnot.
And there's a lot of challenges out there
And uh, he's like, he doesn't behave well, he doesn't do this, he doesn't do that. And, and I thought to myself, man, you know, first of all, the question was for me and my mind and I didn't share this with my friend, right? I don't like to criticize how other people are parenting, but, but I never had that challenge. And there's a lot of challenges out there that I didn't have. And there's a lot of challenges that I have had.
Trust me, I have my own parenting full pause. I started the podcast with the first one of my friends, my, my son basically being challenged with anxiety and he punched himself in the face because he felt as though he wasn't good enough and nobody cared about what he said. And that's what started this podcast. Like, I don't know Jack about parenting, but what I do know is that kids desire our time, they desire attention, they love us, they want us, they want our attention and they're gonna do whatever it takes in order for them to attain that attention, even if it's destructive behavior.
Why do you continue to give them markers?
So, you know, as my friends telling me this story and I just recently visited with him and he basically reiterated, he's like, man, I've painted these walls like 10 times. So there's a couple of things that could happen here. My first thought is if, if he can't control his urges of painting on the walls, why do you continue to give them markers? And he's like, well, we always give them the washable markers. Now he goes, but we have light, light, gray walls. So you kind of still tell no matter how washable they are, they're still color in them. So he gave him an easel.
And his easel basically, uh, he can use the marker, you could flip the easel over his chalkboard. So I sat down with his son and I started drawing with them and I started playing with him and I asked them to draw different shapes and he's young, he's three and he went to go walk away with a marker and I said to him, I say, Hey, where are you going? This is where we use the marker. And he walked right back over and did it. Let me tell you something about that right there. It's, it's chapter 14, I believe in my book, be the dad you wish you had, which there's copies of it right behind me and that there is give clear directions. There's another chapter in this says, don't tell them what not to do. Tell them what to do. Right? So it wasn't, don't draw on the wall.
Next thing you notice, they're stomping...
It was draw here on the easel. We didn't tell them what not to do because kids don't hear "Don't". Listen to what I'm saying, kids don't hear "Don't", they only hear what you say after "Don't". Don't spill the milk. They hear spill the milk, don't run into the house. They hear run into the house. So if you give them a "don't" direction, there's so many other things they can do. Don't run into the house. Can be like, okay, I'm going to stop in the house. Next thing you notice they're stomping... Don't stomp. What do you want them to do? You want them to walk in the house. So tell them what you want them to do, what not to do. They're going to do whatever it takes to get your attention. So I witnessed my son, my son, my friend's son. I'm using the easel. He had his little sister there.
I had my two little ones in the house. I was occupied by four kids. He got away with a marker. He draws on the wall and I know his parents didn't recognize this, but I saw it... Mom goes, you drew on the wall, he got mom's attention and she says, you're going to have to clean it up. She goes and she gets something wet, it's going to wash it off. I don't know what it is. She goes, here you go, and with the biggest smile on his face, he's sitting there washing the wall because he got mom's attention.
Reward the behavior you desire
When he paints on the wall, he gets dad's attention because probably yelling at him for painting on a wall and doing it. So my friend said it takes him about four hours to paint these walls and I thought to myself, you to take any portion of those four hours are all of those four hours and just paid attention to your son and your kids while they're behaving, which goes to chapter 23 in my book. Reward the behavior you desire.
So hey little guy, you just painted an awesome circle and trees and forests and this daddy, mommy loved this artwork. We wish we would've had it done on a piece of paper so we could hang it on a wall somewhere. But instead, what do you want as a special treat today? Because you did so well. Painting on the Easel, mom, dad, whatever the kid says, I want three m and m's. You want three m and m's? How about because you did so well, we give you a four o, four m and m's, and guess what? You're rewarded the behavior. So next time he paid on the last, oh, I guess we can't do m and m's because you know, rewards happen when you paint where you're supposed to paint or you color where you're supposed to color.
People laugh at me when I tell them this
See, we need to anticipate our kids' needs and what do they need. They want us, they want our time and even when we're exhausted and when we're tired. I'm a very organized person in a lot of ways and I'm disorganized in a lot of ways. People laugh at me when I tell them this. Every single day I write down a list of things I want to accomplish within the day, in order for me to be successful the way I see life as successful. One of the things I do each and every single day is write something I'm going to do with my kids that day that they don't have to ask me to do. Right now we have some special things in our lives that happen every single week, so on Friday night we do movie night. That happens automatically. We get a little snack.
We turn on the TV. Sometimes he wants to go to Redbox, but a lot of times we just stream something, but every Friday night it's movie night, he looks forward to that. Some of those Saturday nights turn into Friday night, Friday night movie night also, but a lot of Saturday nights it turn into camping in the living room, watching a movie also. It all depends, but Friday night movie night is his golden Monday nights daddy goes out, he knows every Monday night daddy goes out somewhere, so I'm not there, so we make up for it in other ways. My point is we need to set up a system every single day. Today he gets home and a couple of hours from school, he wanted to make a bow and arrow is a video game, and guess what's on my list today? We made the bow. We need to make some arrows. So guess what we're doing when he gets home today, we're going out to the wooded area out behind our house and we're going to go find some sticks that can become arrows and we're going to carve them. That's what we're doing. It's on my list. It's going to get done.
I'm going to get frustrated
If I don't do that today. This is how my day is gonna look. Daddy, can we go make some arrows? Daddy, we got to get some arrows. Daddy, I want to make some arrows. We made the bow. You told me we can do the arrows. Daddy, we need to do this and I'm going to get frustrated. I could imagine some of you parents out there listening right now are like, man, as my kid, every single day, a thousand questions I got things to do. I got things to do too, but I could spend two or three hours telling him all how busy I am or I could spend 15, 20 minutes going out looking for this stuff and satisfying his need for the day and then guess what's going to happen. Once his need is satisfied and I get to go and do some things that I need to get done later on when he has to do something that he's already been rewarded for the behavior he right. He. He's rewarded. He's a good kid. I always tell him he's a good kid.
He said this is what he wants to do. Daddy put it on his list. He's going to do it. I'm rewarding the behavior I desire, but he's going to reward me because later on he has to study. He has his spelling words. He needs to study and I'm going to say, did you want to make an arrow yesterday? Yes. Did Daddy put time aside to do it. Yes. Did Daddy put time aside today to collect your arrows and to help you carve those arrows? Yes. The daddy let you shoot those arrows today. Yes. Did you get practice in doing what you wanted to do? Absolutely. I did. Daddy. So now it's time for you to put in your work so that we could do a lot of those other fun things.
I had to put that phone down
So today we got to study your spelling words. We're going to go through 20 words twice. He will get them in that time period. He always does. And then guess what? We're going to move forward with our day. Kids will do anything to get our attention. They will drive us nuts. They'll drive us crazy. They will ask us a thousand questions. They love us, but if we ignore them, and I'm guilty of this, I'm telling you people I know Jack about parenting. Not too long ago, this contraption that I'm recording this on, I'm recording this on my phone. I had it in my hand and my son said to me that phone is more important, more important to you than I am, man. I had to put that phone down. That got my attention. So it. Guess what happens? Now when he comes home from school, 5:00, the phone goes away, the computer gets turned down because that message was loud and clear.
He, his perception is his truth. His truth is for some period of time that my phone was more important to me than he was. I do not need my son thinking that. So I needed to change my behavior or he was going to start changing his behavior in a negative way, guaranteed in order to get more of my attention. So he said it. I listened to the clue and guess what? The phone goes away. I've actually had my phone in my office downstairs for two weeks. Now. It's actually kind of Nice because I'm spending more quality time with my family and not attached to this contraption that I utilize for work, but work is not more important than my family. Does that make sense?
That's not going to solve the problem
So heed warnings, listen to what's going on and if your kids are drawing. So I had this conversation about the drawing on the wall. If somebody said, well, what if they gave him a a, a, a pre determined wall that he could always drawn on. I said, that's not going to solve the problem because he doesn't want to draw on walls. Listen what I'm saying. The kid does not want to draw on walls. He draws on walls because that gets attention.
So if he now has a wall to drawn on and he's not getting attention because it's acceptable to do there, he's going to go draw on another wall so that he gets attention. Seem it's not about the the wall. It's not about the canvas, it's about the attention he gets when he's not behaving a certain way. So what do we do to circumvent that? What do we do to solve that? What I do is I just reward the behavior I desire, number one. So whenever he's doing something that I like, I praise him for it with my words often give him some type of treat, a trinket, a sticker, a star, some type of reward system.
Kids spell love T I M E
But I also, without fail, every single day, there is dedicated time to each one of my boys on my goal list. So they can't come to me and say, Dad, you haven't spent any time with me because I always get to say, yeah, didn't we do arrows today? Did we build arrows for the bow and arrow that we made yesterday that we came up with from the book we're reading a couple of days ago? Oh yeah. So daddy has been spending some time with you. Hasn't he just didn't recognize it. Spend time with your kids. Kids spell love T I M E... the More T I M E that you spend with your children. The more they'll respect you, the more they'll respond to you, the more they will listen to you. The more you will be connected to them and the better children you will have. See you in the next episode.
About the Author
Ryan Roy is the father of two boys and on a mission to be the dad he wished he had... and to help other fathers be the best they can be too.
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