What Do Children Really Want? (A Classic, Republished by Popular Demand)

What Do Children Really Want? (A Classic, Republished by Popular Demand)


This was Anne’s first Parenting Column ever, originally published in December, 2012

As young Mothers and Grandmothers gladly and wholeheartedly comb the earth to find a very special something for a little relative, they might be surprised to know they have this present already. What the child most wants is their attention and time. A child’s heart’s desire is unquestionably just a few hours with a parent or grandparent, somewhere simple, maybe at home, a cozy restaurant or outside. Phones and all technological devices are not invited. Pets stay home. No errands to accomplish. The TV is off.

Draw and color together. Read a story and talk about it. Take a walk and look around. Listen and respond. Go at the child’s pace. Hold hands. Anything more complicated tends to move your attention to the task rather than the little person doing it with you. Your focus should be on the child, so that the time feels ample and leisurely and close, even if you only have an hour.

Attention, time together and love are invaluable. They are the presents we all want. And the gift to the child gives itself right back to the giver. You’ll both want to do it again. You’ll find another hour in your busy schedule and both of you will have something special to look forward to. Your relationship with the child will become stronger, deeper, closer, more tender. Lucky everyone!

Anne Martine Cook has 40+ years experience teaching nursery school children.