What is the Right Kind of Attention for Your Children?

By Danny Huerta
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
The right kinds of attention family together time
Family engaging in the right kind of attention by Nathan Anderson GM5Yn5XRVqA Unsplash e1565731315397
Paying the right kinds of attention to your children is easier when you become more aware of each child's personality and temperament.

“I’m totally stressed out!” Dean told me. “My family is always going somewhere or doing something. I never get any downtime!”

Dean’s family life

Dean’s mom and dad weren’t bad parents. They were just highly motivated people who were actively involved in work, church, community and all their sons’ activities. And Dean’s four brothers seemed happy with this fast-paced lifestyle. Apparently no one had been aware of how different Dean’s personality was from the rest of the family members’ personalities. Surprisingly, they were not paying the right kinds of attention to Dean.

“Try slowing the pace for a while,” I advised the parents. “Spend time just being together.” They did, and the result was a big improvement in Dean’s mental and physical health and in his relationship with the family.

A wake-up call 

Sometimes good parents — caring, loving parents — can overlook a child’s needs because their attention is pulled in too many directions. Dean’s parents had a wake-up call that helped them reconsider their son’s unique temperament and take steps to renew the relationship. 

I wonder how many of us need our own wake-up call.  How can we pay the right kinds of attention to our children?

Often the verse Proverbs 22:6 is quoted when raising children. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” 

We like to think of this as a formula. We think all we need to do is A-G.. Yet, the Amplified version of that verse reads, “Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent]…” This adds a nuance of learning who your child was created by God to be. 

It is not trying to fit them into a certain mold, rather more like unwrapping a gift to discover what is inside.

The right kinds of attention starts small

Relationships with our kids don’t happen automatically. Life is busy, and we sometimes default to reactionary parenting — only becoming keenly aware of our kids’ needs when some problem surfaces. 

The first and perhaps most important step toward becoming better, more intentional parents is to simply pay more attention to our kids, to start becoming aware of the unique ways they are created. Put aside the to-do list, the extra office work and the electronics. Be very intentional with your children to understand the right ways to connect with them.

Getting to know your children involves consciously taking some practical steps to know the right kinds of attention they need.

Discover their love language

Dr. Chapman says that “Children receive love emotionally, but because they are all different, we must pay attention to their individual needs. We must learn to speak our children’s [love] language if we want them to feel loved.” 

For fun, try practicing all of them and see which ones your child responds to more. Remember we often express love out of our own language preference. We have to stretch ourselves to express the others. 

Extrovert or introvert or somewhere in between?

Knowing when your child needs “their” space can be critical in understanding how they respond emotionally to certain situations. It’s also important to know what kinds of environment your child feels most comfortable in. Whether it’s when they are surrounded by dozens of friends or in contract alone in their room, understanding your child’s place on the extrovert/introvert spectrum can aid in your ability to listen, advise and care as a parent in the right way.

Pay attention in the right ways

Often, parents and kids can have polar opposite interests. The song you fell in love with 30 years ago is a far cry from your child’s current favorite song. 

Yet, finding places where your interests overlap with your children’s can be important in developing your relationships. Find out what their favorite restaurant is. Or maybe their favorite musician. Or even their favorite video game.

This doesn’t mean the family only does what the child wants. Providing a balance in parent-chosen and child-chosen activities can expose both parties to each other’s interests and therefore create the best kind of lasting memories along the way.

Consequently, when you pay attention you naturally start making parenting decisions that better accommodate your children’s strengths and weaknesses. Every child has a unique, vibrant personality that gives parents important clues on how to best raise him or her. 

7 Traits of Effective Parenting Assessment

Good parents aren’t perfect. There’s no formula to follow, but there are ways you can grow every day. Focus on the Family’s 7 Traits of Effective Parenting Assessment gives parents an honest look at their unique strengths, plus some areas that could use a little help.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Danny Huerta Media Profile
Danny Huerta

As vice president of the Parenting and Youth department, Danny oversees Focus’ initiatives that equip parents to disciple and mentor the next generation, so that they can thrive in Christ.

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.

If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.