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Monday, August 23, 2010

What About Me?: Twelve Ways To Get Your Parent's Attention (Without Hitting Your Sister)

What About Me?: Twelve Ways To Get Your Parent's Attention (Without Hitting Your Sister) eileen kennedy-moore book review
What About Me? Twelve Ways To Get Your Parent's Attention (Without Hitting Your Sister)
by Eileen Kennedy-Moore
illustrated by Mits Katayama

Ages 4-8

I wonder if there is a parent out there who hasn't, at some point in their parenthood, snapped an impatient, "Not now, I am busy" or "Please be quiet, baby is napping" or something similar. And then felt a bit guilty about it, knowing that all their child is asking for is undivided attention reassuring them of their love.

What is an older sibling to do when parents seem too busy with household chores or office work or the new baby? They could - throw tantrums, hit their sibling...


they could do any or all of the dozen things this book mentions, to get their parents' attention in a positive way.

This book came into my hands only recently, making me wish I had it 2 years ago when Oggie was a newborn. No matter. Now, Ana enjoys affirming, "I do that!", "I do that too!" and so on as we read this book which offers simple and direct actions children can do to feel included, to feel appreciated, while competing for their parents' time and indulgence.

The very first one - You could watch what they are doing and ask, "Can I help?" - immediately appealed to me. And so did the others all the way - teaching the kids to share, help, sing/dance, show what they can do by themselves, even invite parents to play and so on.

The book asserts, Busy or not, they will stop to give you a smile and say they love you too which is a powerful message for the kids. Especially because usually the motivation behind their rather unpleasant behavior is to get noticed and get a response from the parents.

As author and clinical psychologist Dr.Kennedy-Moore mentions in this interview, when children ask for attention in appropriate ways, parents are more likely to respond positively. The book came about as a simple collection of kind and creative ways for her son to get her attention.

The message I took away from this book as a parent: Many an impatient drill-sergeant tone and exasperated huffs can be avoided by parents if they provide the tools for their children to ask for what they want in an acceptable and appropriate way, making it almost impossible not to be suitably responsive and reassuring.

There have been times when after a long day, I pick up Ana and am ready to get home, start dinner, my mind racing with all the things that need to be done, and Ana decides to invoke the nails-on-chalkboard whine as soon as she is strapped in with, "I don't want to listen to this. This is boring. Turn on <blah> now!"

Naturally, it is easy to bark a non-negotiable, "No! I am listening to it now."

But, when I take the time to remind her, "Ana, you can say I know you are listening to this Amma, but, when you get a chance can you please play my favorite <blah>?", then, I give her the tool to get a positive response from me. And if she learns to extrapolate this, she has a tool to present any request she might have with the confidence of a favorable response. (For the most part).

And that is the core message of this book: to equip the children with options to express their needs without resorting to undesirable/unpleasant/unacceptable behavior simply because they didn't know how else to go about it.

I liked the clear, practical, and straightforward actions suggested for the kids which they can start incorporating immediately, and can continue to employ with gentle reminders, if necessary, from parents. The rhyming text and accompanying illustrations make it quite easy to follow along even for the two year old.

"Offer to share - even give Sister half
Make silly faces so Baby will laugh"

Suggestion Number 10 is a bit Utopian in my personal opinion as it says, "Offer to clean with glee", but that's just me :)

Most of the suggestions are probably not new to "Montessori-parents" - a term I am using to describe myself and the community of parents who believe in Maria Montessori's approach to learning which includes equipping (and thereby empowering) the child for success.

Let's face it, every parent, every person for that matter, juggles so many responsibilities these days that there is not going to be these picture-perfect ideal moments all the time where each request is made with care and is responded with sensitivity. And the book doesn't offer to solve the very real issue of children's behavior.

After the very first read, my five-year-old was confident about the effectiveness of the suggested approaches through her interactions with us. And, the two-year-old is beginning to get the message, especially when Ana takes it upon herself to remind him when he is being particularly disagreeable.

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At 7:23 AM, Blogger upsilamba said...

this is the book I really need to be reading with my older one now :)

At 11:19 AM, Blogger Dee said...

Perfect :)!

At 2:15 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

Upsi, Dee::I really was thinking about kuttan A, about Baby D, when I read this book wondering how the respective older brothers were handling their new sibling... let me know if this book made a difference at all. I am curious. The one that Ana has picked up and used most is "Can I help with that?" - in the kitchen especially. Thanks!


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