Tips for talking to children (so they actually listen)
Talking to young children under five can be one of the most entertaining experiences on earth, their point of view and turn of phrase are generally amusing and adorable. This is all good and well until you are trying to give them instructions or need them to understand something important. ie. The reasons you shouldn’t cut your sister's hair, or why plastic bags are not hats.
So how do you up the likely hood of your child taking in the information?
It sounds pretty obvious but giving your child your full attention when the TV is on, you have dinners to make, uniforms to wash and emails to send can be a challenge for any parent. It is important that you also have their full attention, so stop whatever you are doing and get down to their eye level. Mute any devices for a minute and explain what you would like them to do (including a time frame helps) ie. I would you to pack your toys away and wash your hands for dinner by six o’clock (or by the time the little hand on the clock is on the six) get them to repeat it back, then lock it in with a thumbs up or a high five for good measure.
Give them a choice
If you have ever tried to get a preschool child to leave a play centre or a public swimming pool, you will know already that children rarely cooperate with a simple, “It's time to head home”. So to save you from having to crawl into a ball pit or carry a screaming dripping-wet child into the changing rooms, try involving your child and giving them a little bit of control over the situation (once again, a time frame helps). For example “We have five minutes before we need to go, do you want to have another turn on the giant slide or a jump on the bouncing castle before we go?”
Offer an Alternative
So you catch your 5-year-old attempting to give her sister a pixie cut with her playschool safety scissors. Firstly, remain calm (particularly if your child is holding scissors) you don’t want to startle them and create an outburst of tears and confusion before you have a chance to deal with the situation. Secondly, say what it is you believe you are seeing ie. It looks like you are trying to cut your sister's hair. This gives your child a chance to explain what they think they are doing. For example, getting the hair out of her eyes. Letting them explain and repeating back to them what they have said will help them feel understood and keep everyone calm. Obviously, kids are not always truthful but repeat their explanations calmly anyway. Once you have heard them out, explain why an in-house salon is not ideal. Ie. Potentially chopping off more than just hair (an ear for example) and then offering a safer scissor activity, like magazine collaging.
No, I am not sure why I went with the haircut example, but I am sure you get the gist.
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