"They were fine til you arrived" Gah! The most infuriating words to hear from my husband when I walk into a room and within seconds both my children are arguing, whining or pulling at my leg to look at things. Is it just me?
The most infuriating thing of all is that he's not making it up. I've usually been able to hear the peaceful independent play that was happening until I arrived.
He's also not some sort of Super Nanny parenting expert. Believe me.
Does my very presence make my children less happy?
The answer is no - well at least I hope not...!
So, what's going on?
You may know that children's behaviour is strongly affected by a need for positive attention and interaction. Very simply, it's this positive attention and interaction that mine are demanding from me with this behaviour.
"Children's behaviour is strongly affected by a need for positive attention and interaction"
What can we do about it?
I noticed that this attention seeking mostly happened on weekend mornings when I'd maybe spent a bit longer than usual trying to actually dry my hair for once, and then tidying up everyone else's mess, making beds etc. You know, all the really fun letting-your-hair-down weekend stuff.
But I've discovered recently that the best way to avoid these moments is to spend some time giving them my full attention before I go off and do the things I need to do. It's like they have a little cup to be filled with positive interaction. Once it's full, they can happily play on their own while I go off and do what I need to do.
It was at weekends that I was spending time on other things before spending time with them. During the week getting them dressed and breakfasted comes higher up the agenda. Once I started spending time with them first thing at the weekend, I was then able to go back to the things I needed to do later on.
Does i = p? Or is it more 2i = p?
I've not worked out any scientific formula for this yet. Does 10 minutes of interaction give you 10 minutes of peace, i = p? Or are we looking at more of a 2i = p situation? I guess there may be some other variables too.
What can this positive interaction look like?
I'm not a big one for joining in with imaginative play - I'll leave Families and Princesses to those under 3-feet tall. I personally find a really good way to ensure some positive interaction is to play a board game, do a jigsaw, or if I've got a bit more time learn about something together. When I'm involved as an equal party in the activity, it means I put my phone away and am fully present and engaged in what we're doing together. It makes it more enjoyable for me too.
To learn together, we've tried subscription boxes, online classes and ideas from Pinterest, but their favourite (yes, they're totally biased) is when I do a trial run of my Little STEAMers class for the week. As well as helping me see what engages a 3yo and a 4yo, it means I don't feel like I'm spending all my time teaching things to other people's children and not my own #mumguilt! When they're engaged in the topic we're doing that week, they can even go off on their own to explore the topic by the end, meaning not only are they leaving me alone, but they're also learning too #mumguiltgoals
Find what your little one loves and maybe do it every Saturday morning together, with a cup of tea of course!
I'd love to hear how focusing on positive interaction early in the day and in regular bursts across the day helps with behaviour and tantrums in your house. I'm making no promises - sadly little people can't quite compute a formula yet.
PS If you ever want to see whether Little STEAMers can give you the magical tantrum avoiding positive interaction, your very first class is free. Find out what we're learning about this week.