In Part 1 and 2 of this article series, I spoke about eye contact and physical contact being important to making your children truly understand and know that you love them. These two things seldom require real sacrifice by parents, however, the third item, focused attention, usually scares parents when I bring it up because they think it means to spend loads of time with their kids - time they don’t have.

What is focused attention? Focused attention is giving a child full, undivided attention in such a way that she feels without a doubt that she is completely loved. That she is valuable in her own right to warrant her parents’ undistracted watchfulness and appreciation. In other words, focused attention makes a child feel he is the most important person in the world in his parents’ eyes.

I’ve seen it time and time again with my personal coaching clients as well as with my own children, that when individual, focused attention is given in a consistent way, behaviour improves dramatically as does the child’s self esteem.

In today’s busy world, parents are just trying to get the basics done ie. laundry, meals, lunches, bedtime, homework, etc. that there is not as much time left for any real bonding to take place. Yes, we love our children and they get hugs and kisses from us, but focused attention is different, and impacts other, very important things within a child.

Let me give you a personal example here. A while back my husband came to talk to me about our son’s behaviour and attitude. You see, when my husband asked our son to do something our son either ignored him or shouted back at him. “What do you think we should do, you’re the coach?” he asked. To his surprise I said, “I think the real issue lies with the fact that our son doesn’t have as close of an attachment to you these past few weeks and that is why he’s acting out.” At first he argued with me on this; he was positive that our son was just being disrespectful.

I coached him as I do my coaching clients about how to ensure our son feels loved and what the direct result of him feeling loved would be. You see, often, there is no problem with our child or with ourselves, it’s only our approach to our relationship with our child that needs looking at. And, it is with a great relationship that our child will natu rally want to behave, listen, help, be respectful and mindful of the feelings of others. So, after reviewing a few things, my hubby agreed to put back into place what he once did regularly with our son - give him focused attention.

If you want to experiment with this, here’s what you do:

1) Sit down with your child and brainstorm a bunch of activities they would love to do with you and which things you would love to do` with them. These can be simple such as “Watch our favourite TV program together” or “Go to the park and then for a special drink or treat”.
2) Keep this list safe or cut the ideas up and put into a special jar or box.
3) Every month call your child or children to the table and say, “Let’s schedule some fun time together!” (or whatever feels natural to you) and schedule one activity on the calendar for that month. This will g uarantee that your child feels like they are a priority to you and that you like spending time with them. (By the way, 1000’s of children that I surveyed from around the world told me that this is enough. They don’t need loads of your time, just a specific, focused amount of attention on one occasion every month).

Now, over and above this, be sure that when they are showing you something or telling you something you look them in the eye and give them your full attention. Answering, “Uh Huh” or “Really?” while you check your email or Blackberry doesn’t count.

Are you wondering what change, if any, my husband experienced? Our son was happy, light and cheerful again. And.. instead of yelling, “No!” when my husband asked him to do something he said, “Of course I can, Daddy!”

As is true with most things in life, it’s usually the simple things that work the best or feel t he best and with parenting, it’s no different. There are very simple things that your kids need from you that will have the greatest impact on them. Try giving them focused attention and see the incredible difference.

Next week is Part 4, the final part of this article series on “How to Ensure Your Child Feels Loved”. In this part I will share with you what children from around the world said makes them feel loved. I wonder if you can guess what it is?

Author's Bio: 

Erin Kurt, parenting & life coach to working mothers, and founder of ErinParenting, is also the author of Juggling Family Life and creator of The Life Balance Formula and the How to Get Your Child to Listen program.