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Kids Who Have Everything But Attention


by Shirley King

Kids these days have too much of everything. And they want more. They have toy boxes filled to overflowing with dolls, blocks, cars, trucks, games, puzzles and stuffed animals. They are chauffeured daily to gymnastics, dance and soccer, and still they want more.

Kids have too much of everything except the most important thing: their parents' focused time and attention. Kids are screaming out for attention - undivided attention. And they will get our attention one way or another.

Parents now are so busy. Most households have two working parents who are pretty stressed with their jobs and other responsibilities. When we are under stress and our child demands attention, we may just buy her a new doll or a new dinosaur, instead.

The results of all this buying can be quite formidable; kids who whine and are demanding when you take them shopping; kids who feel they have to have all the new toys that come out on the market; who see others by what they own rather than by their character; who don't know gratitude or the joy of giving; and who grow up to be teens or adults who try to fill their internal emptiness with food, alcohol, drugs or shopping.

Jean Liedloff writes about this unmet need in her book the Continuum Concept. She writes that all human beings have an incredible need as infants to be held - continually. This fills them with a sense of love, self-worth, trust, security and fulfillment.

Many parents were children who were not held as much as they needed to be held, so they don't know how to nurture and hold their children. This difficulty of parents to nurture, coupled with the stresses of today makes it very easy to fall into the buying mode.

We need to be aware of the number of things and activities we give our children. We also need to remember that our kids learn by watching us. Are we materialistic? Do we always want the latest product on the market? If so, we can be pretty sure our kids will follow in our footsteps.

At the same time we limit the number of things we buy for our children, it is imperative that we increase the amount of time we spend with them. Dorothy Corkille Briggs says in Your Child's Self-Esteem "How frequently we give presents rather than presence," How true it is!

Deep down inside, kids simply want their parents' focused attention. This is love. Dolls are nice, but undivided attention is love. Instead of just handing her a new doll, get down on the floor and play with her!

When we cherish our children, they learn to feel valued and worthy because of who they are and not because of what they have.
 

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