Updated: Feb 28
This is a technique that I've been working on for years but I 'm calling it new here because so few people actually know exactly how to use it or how it can help you to keep control of nearly any situation.
If you don't know how to use this technique you might end up yelling for your child's attention.
This doesn't feel good for the kids or for the parents.
Kids want both guidelines and limits from us, so providing them in a clear and user-friendly way can save us tons of anguish as our children grow. We need to teach them how to respond to us, even when they have to stop playing for a minute to do so.
So here's the technique:
Imagine your child is engaged and having a good time playing, but you need to tell them something important. You may want to say, " lower your voice", or, "we have to leave in 10 minutes so finish up what you're doing", or even, "nice job solving that problem with your friend, you worked it out on your own!" but they won't stop what they're doing for a moment to acknowledge you.
It's like they've gone deaf to your voice only!.
Here's what to do.
In a non-stressful moment, tell your child that you've noticed that they seem to be having a hard time "hearing" when you have to talk to them and they're busy playing,
Tell them it makes you feel frustrated (or whatever you feel) so from now on you're going to give them only one chance to stop playing, look at you, and listen until you're done talking.
Now for the key element. Don't skip this part or you'll have a disaster!
Tell them that when you have to say their name more than once or twice with no response, you'll have to walk up to them, put your hand on their shoulder and lead them into another room where you can tell them what they need to know without distractions.
This will take longer and you will have to actually do it one or more times before they get the idea that they;re simply shooting themselves in the foot by refusing to stop and listen when you need their attention.
Children do not ever want to stop playing and learning because it's in their nature to get in as much in as possible. We, as parents and caregivers have to make a schedule in which there's plenty of time for play and learning but then we have to stick to that schedule so there's enough time for eating, sleeping, relaxing and bonding too!
Children want to play more, so as soon as they figure out that responding to an adult request right away will allow them more time to play than if they don't respond and have to walk all the way into the next room to get their instructions they'll start catching on. Listening right away becomes a win-win situation and kids and parents both feel better about the way it's going.
By setting this limit and following through you've kept control of the situation without resorting to yelling, threatening or using angry words. You've used a minor and logical consequence to teach, not trick your child into behaving.
By the way, this also works with adults. Just say, "excuse me dear, can I talk to you in the other room for a minute, please?"
So that's my amazing secret of the week! I hope you all get as many happy and constructive parenting and teaching moments out of this as I have.
Nanci J. Bradley is a child and family
educator, author, energy facilitator, family aerobics instructor and all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, lifelong learning, healthy eating, fun, and more than anything else, PLAY! She studied early childhood education at Triton College and received her BA in education from Northern Illinois University in 1986. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison, WI.