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  • Mary Smith

80/20 Rule



I like to call it the 80/20 rule. Paretos’s principle - also known as the law of the vital few or the principle of factor sparsity[1]: for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes[2]. In parenting that translates simply to what you do 20% of the time will have an impact on 80% of the results. Good parenting does not have to take more time. Just intention. And doing.

Here’s one of my favorites. (Do not post this on some social media where kids will see it!) Set an alarm at the time when you know you will have a child with you, talking to you. Make the alarm the same sound as your phone ring. When it rings, look at it and then say to your child, “Oh, I’m not going to answer that. They can wait; I’d rather talk to you.”

True attunement is not simply undivided attention; it is being open and aware to what is happening with your child and responding to those needs which ultimately helps the child regulate his/her emotions. But listening, really listening without distraction, is a good start. Today, I just want you to practice listening.

And more importantly, I want your child to know that you are listening - choosing him over the phone is a big clue. Don’t worry about the rest. It will come.

Set the ringer. Ignore it. Tell your child that he/she is more important.

It’s that simple.

Extra credit: What is the brain’s involvement in all of this? Our need to connect is as fundamental as our need for food and water (Lieberman 2014). Read that twice - it’s critical.

[1] Bunkley, Nick (March 3, 2008). "Joseph Juran, 103, Pioneer in Quality Control, Dies". New York Times. Archived from the original on September 6, 2017. Retrieved 25 January 2018. [2] Box, George E.P.; Meyer, R. Daniel (1986). "An Analysis for Unreplicated Fractional Factorials". Technometrics. 28 (1): 11–1