Tuesday, 1 November 2016


...effective ways of getting them into the car, out of the house, to get dressed...

Every couple of hours I read a post of Facebook wherein parents describe the explanations they give their kids for why diapers need to be changed, or we all need to go outside, or it's time to leave the park, or go to school, or get out of bed, or go to bed, or put on shoes, or pack up for dance class... or whatever.

“You want to go to class...”
“If you don't, your bum will get sore...”
“It's good for your body to be out in the sunlight, moving around...”
“Besides, you like the seaside...”

https://www.flickr.com/photos/renegade13/3397050051/Translation: “Blah blah blah blah blah blah bum blah blah blah.”

One of the recommended techniques to improve not only a child's vocabulary but also their ability to think for life is to chatter away at them about what is going on, what things are called, their descriptions, how they function, etc. Pointing out the world and describing it theoretically gives kids the mental framework they need to assemble their thoughts in order to understand what is going on around them...

...which is all well and good, up to a point.

That point is where parents are trying to convince them that a parent's ideas of what should happen next is a super great idea that all sane children will leap to agree with.

Is this where I mention that kids (especially little kids, but let's be honest: people of all ages) are not noted for their sanity?

Even after decades of study in marketing and the science of influencing people, adults struggle to convince other adults to switch to Pepsi or wear their seatbelts... and yet we expect to talk a busy toddler into changing activities while they're doing what they want to do. This is not rational.

And, more importantly, it doesn't work. Pretty much ever.

No child is going to be sold on the 'fun' of cleaning up their room, or putting the dishes in the sink, or going outside when they are happily exploring the texture of the carpet.

What Actually Works, Ever (not 100%, because, see above, re: sanity)

Get the child's attention.
Wait a little while longer.

Get the child's attention

When they're busy experimenting with the light and shadow on the tile by the door, their minds are not open to what else is going on... so to them, dad chattering away in the background is like talk radio in a different language that you can hear from someone's passing car.

Get down on the child's level, in front of the child so you are within sight. Touch the child gently. Wait until they make eye contact.


Just say what is coming up, with the first direction you need them to follow:

'Shoes on, we're going to the grocery store.'
'Time for a diaper change, meet me over there...'
'Get what you need for skating lessons.'


Simple enough. Hard to do. It helps to sit still and not say anything at all. Adding words or movement at this point is distracting from what you've just said is going to happen, and suggests that it isn't, actually... It suggests that something has happened to make that go away (because things do that all the time –I'm talking to you In-5-minutes-we-will-leave-where-mummy-is-talking-to-friends, and we don't go anywhere for 23 minutes!)

Things are moving inside where you can't see them. Gears are shifting, and because they are little and have hardly any practice, it takes a while. Watch their face ponder what you've said, and wait while it's integrated into their world in there.

They want to get along, they want to be part of the big world. They want to be clean and happy and fed and have a variety of experiences. They just don't want to be rushed.

They really don't want to be convinced.

Just wait. Just watch.