The Power of Attention

What you pay attention to you get more of.

We learn this from Conscious Discipline and behavioral studies. Positive attention to positive behaviors will give you more of those positive behaviors. Negative attention to negative behaviors will give you more of those negative behaviors.

This principle is taught more eloquently by the great American poet, Mary Oliver.

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”

Simply put, and so stunningly true. Our job in this life is to pay attention. And our job as caregivers of little people is to pay attention to them! When they feel noticed, they feel seen. They feel validated. They feel appreciated. That sets the best stage for them to learn and grow.

More words of wisdom from Oliver:

“Attention is the beginning of devotion.”

Ah, aren’t we devoted to our little ones?

When that child is first brought into our lives we notice every little fingernail and dimple. The beginning of devotion indeed. And they can feel it. When we notice, they feel loved. They feel secure. They feel safe.

Final words of wisdom from Ms Oliver:

“I simply do not distinguish between work and play.”

Pretty wise words coming from a grownup. Play IS a child’s work. And when we let them freely explore they will do their best work, and learn what they need in the most developmentally appropriate way.

One of the silver linings of these strange times is the opportunity for us to pay attention. We have a unique chance to slow down and really notice our children for who they are, rather than rushing them to the next enrichment activity. As we notice them in their play, that IS their work. Their work of growing, learning, developing, and becoming.

And aren’t we honored to be able to witness it?

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