When things go wrong, a common narrative ends up being “we didn’t see the warning signs.” This can apply to an innumerable array of issues – personal, social, environmental, mechanical and so forth. A more accurate rendition of this lamentation would be “we didn’t pay attention to the warning signs.” If your engine is making an unusual knocking noise on occasion, you hear it, but may choose to dismiss it as insignificant. And when that engine experiences a catastrophic failure because it ran low on oil, you realize that the intermittent knocking should have been addressed immediately.

When things go right, even less notice is often taken. If you perform well at your job, you are seen as meeting the expectations set forth by your employer. Extra hours, abridged lunch breaks or going above and beyond the minimum requirements are simply mixed into the fold of what it takes to remain employed in good standing. For anyone that has worked in a retail environment, you are well aware that it takes one misstep in your customer service to earn a complaint, but mile after mile of extraordinary overachievement before someone actually takes the time to send an unsolicited letter of appreciation to your management.

When a child overtly misbehaves, adults are quick to apply remedial actions. Time-outs, consequences or explanation of appropriate behavior usually follow. But some, less alarming behaviors, may be dismissed as insignificant. Perhaps a child is not very being very social today; maybe they’re just having an off day, but maybe something more significant has transpired causing them to withdraw. If you don’t pay attention, you will inevitably miss the things that matter.

Similarly, if your child behaves properly, there is little need for alarm. That’s how they should behave, right? Why not notice this good behavior and commend it? Make a big deal out of it! You feel pretty good when your boss stops by the office and compliments you on a job well done, even if it’s something you do every day already. Notice a kind action – encourage a keen interest – reinforce a positive social interaction. “Catch them doing something right” should be emblazoned in the minds of parents and anyone involved in child care of any type.

At The Learning Lodge, we always pay attention. Just as the English idiom “a picture is worth a thousand words” refers to the notion that a single image can convey a complex idea, we feel that every interaction with a child can speak volumes as well.