So I was walking through the store the other day. There was a kid stuck in a cart who was desperate for his moms attention. Over and over and over he yapped, “Mommy, mommy, mommy, look at me, mommy.” I think he was asking for a toy. Every time she would come into reach, he would try to tap her. He was getting so obnoxious everyone in the store was taking notice and avoiding the area.
In a final last resort, the child wailed, “Mommy, owwwwwww!! Mommy, that hurts!” She was nowhere near him and he obviously wasn’t hurt, but somewhere he had learned that those words would get her attention. It worked.
We inadvertently train children every second of every day. This kid tried everything that had ever worked before to get her attention. At some point or another, his obnoxious repetition had worked, his pleading touches, and finally, his crying in “pain.” She had trained him. Not in the way she had intended, but she had taught him what he had to do to get her attention.
Every moment of every day, people train each other, especially children and parents. As kids, we want things all the time. And smart kids take subconscious note of what they have to do to get what they want. Even if it’s something as simple as attention. We all want our parent’s attention. In desperation, we’ll even settle for negative attention. At least we’re being heard.
So today, remember to reward good behavior with attention. And remember that every moment of every day we are learning about each other.