3 Most effective Parenting Tools:
1. Take a break and try again tool
The BIG IDEA of this tool is to remove yourself from the situation & give yourself & your child a minute to calm down so that you can work on the issue together.
- This tool is best used when the child is upset, crying, whining or otherwise uncooperative. It is not a time out and there is no expectation other than to take some time and calm yourself.
Leave the area where you were playing and away from the commotion & if needed spend some quiet time alone. This tool does not work while in the car or similar situation. At the park we’ll go sit on a bench and breathe if we’re super worked up or talk about it if we need to process feelings.
I actually used this tool on my son today as we’re leaving the park he started to cry. He wasn’t done playing but it was time to go home make dinner and wind down our day. He sniffed and whined and tried to talk me into staying but it really was time to go, so I made good on my word and we went… of course not without protest! It was just a sign that he was ready to go too.
2. Limited Choice Tool:
The big idea of this tool is inviting the child to make a choice between 2 options. This helps them feel included in the decision making process and own their personal power.
- Giving the child a choice helps them feel more in control. We practice this in daily life whenever we can. Do you want blueberries or apples with lunch? Etc. So my son is used to making decisions for himself. He knew was getting a fruit on his plate and by giving him a choice then it helps him feel included and can use his power of choice. This decreases the chances of him melting down because I did (or didn’t) give him apples.
With the above park example I could have used this tool before we got to the car and the crying escalated: For example: “Are you going to help me clean up the sand toys or go and get buckled. IF dinner time is tricky for your little guy or gal try asking Do you want to play ________ or invent something with Legos, while I make dinner? If they do not answer then prompt him with, “Which do you choose or You decide.”
3. Redirect with Purpose:
This tool is for kids that are too young to effectively use a e big idea of this tool is to involve the child in a helpful task.
- This tool is best used when your child needs attention/ supervision but you also need to get some things done around the house. My son used to do everything he could to try to get my attention when I was trying to cook dinner. I did everything I could think of and nothing worked… until I asked him if he wanted to help me. It was kind of magic!
- When i’m making dinner I get a step ladder and find one or two simple tasks that he can do (stirring, pouring, counting) sometimes he just wants to watch me cook. He helped until he lost interest (about 10-15 minutes) and then went off and played Magnatiles by himself.
- Prepare ahead a “work” station. Make sensory bins or a process art organizer where they can have some open ended play time.
- Give them a simple task moving something from one place to another. EX: I was tackling a mountain of Laundry yesterday and my son was very clearly demanding my attention. “Hey Buddy- I need your help… Can you please bring these shirts into your room and put them nicely on your bed?” I gave him one task at a time with simple directions and had him running back and forth between his room and it worked out great.
These are the three most effective parenting tools I use to de-escalate any situation. They are tried and true for all personality types.
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