I'm assuming you're a pretty great parent already if you're reading posts about how to get better so I appreciate that in you. Congratulations on choosing to make the world a better place.
I've been working directly with very young (0-8) children and families for well over 40 years and if there's one thing I know how to do, it's encouage young children.
For most of my carreer, I didn't know about this little word switch I'm about to reveal to you but now that I've been using it, I'd never do any other way. So here it is.
When your child falls down and gets hurt, do you automatically, like so many other parents, my past self included, say "You're OK!", when they look up at you for direction. This works just great when they're not hurt because they agree with you and resume their play.
But the truth is that we don't really how much it hurts them. So if we tell them they're OK and they're really not (for whatever reason) they just cry louder in order to convince us that they really aren't OK. They may be hurt, they may be angry or they may be frustrated. We don't know.
That's why, after many years of trying convice kids that they're OK, I've gotten wiser and started asking them, "Are you OK?" Most of the time they say yes and continue on.
If they say no or cry we figure out what's wrong together. I ask if they're more mad or hurt. We look at the injury together. This builds trust. I trust them, they trust me. Children learn by example. That's how we're wired. Now the children I work with every day automatically ask each other if they're OK when they fall down. Pretty sweet to hear!
Making this little word switch helps kids learn to trust you because you're trusting them. It also helps them with self-regulation because they're taking the time to stop and figure out what's wrong, not just panic until an adult "fixes" the problem. Aren't we better off working together to fix things until they learn to fix them on their own?
That's why I call this new skill , "The Magic Band Aid". See if it works for you and let me know in the comments below.
If you like the kind of verbal judo that makes kids love to listen to you, you've come to the right place. For more parenting, sleep, eating or learning tips, Click here.
Nanci J Bradley, 60, is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, SELF-care facilitator, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.