Author | Karen Base
Have you ever had a time when you were trying to read a book to a child and they keep wiggling, moving or talking? Or maybe you were trying to get them to clean up their toys or get ready for bed but they simply refused to move! Yes I have had that too! It can be frustrating when we need to go on to the next activity of the day but seems like every step we take to move in that direction is a fight. So what do you do? I know for me, there were a few things I learned along the way that though they were simple were very powerful! I want to share a couple of those with you!
The first “strategy”, if you want to call it that that I found extremely helpful, was to give my child a choice. The choice has to be within limits that are agreeable to you too of course. (For instance you wouldn’t want to say to a child “Do you want to play outside in the dirt or in the yard, if getting dirty is not an option at that moment.) It could go something like this: Your child is playing with toys in the living room (or block area if you are in a classroom setting) You need your child to clean up and get ready for lunch. You could say something like “You have really been enjoying your cars for a long time! I know that lunch is ready. Where would you like to put the cars during lunch? Would you like to put them away from where you got them or put them in a basket (or whatever container you might have available) for later?”
Providing two positive choices will help the child to move in the direction you want while giving them some control as well. During this time we find ourselves with the CoVId 19 a lack of control can be very stressful for adults and for children. Giving choices is a win-win for you and your child. Remember however to provide two positive choices. “Do you want to clean up your cars or to your room (or the safe spot that some classrooms use)?” are not positive choices.
For all you Early Care Educators you may be thinking right now the safe spot is a positive choice, however when you give it as an ultimatum it isn’t a positive choice.
Another factor in getting my child to listen is to get on their level and really engage in what they are doing. Make it a conversation. As parents and teachers we often talk “at” children giving directives and instructions rather than truly talking with them and actively listening to them. A good point of reference to see which one you are using is this; Is this a tone of voice I would use with my best friend? If the answer is no then you may want to reevaluate what and how you are communicating with your child. A “teacher/parent” tone is often not conducive to motivating children to listen to what we have to say.
Most of all remember to connect. I know that might sound like a “no brainer” but during this time with so much on our plate and so much going on in the world we might not even realize that we are “checked out” and not really engaged ourselves. When we take the time to get on their level and really listen to them we will find that they will respond positively and listen.