There are moments in parenting that feel entirely ineffective. Nothing seems like it is working, so bad habits continue and negative behaviors persist. Parents feel frustrated and helpless, but sometimes all that is needed are a few more tools in the toolbox. Here are my top 3 redirection techniques that consistently result in better behavior.
- Use positive speech. Tell your children what they can do rather than beginning a redirection with “don’t.” Phrases such as, “use walking feet,” “touch with gentle hands,” “talk with your quiet voice,” and “feet stay on the floor” have been proven to yield more successful responses from the child. Phrases such as “don’t hit,” “stop yelling,” or “no climbing” essentially emphasize and name the behaviors parents want children to avoid. Positive speech allows for the opportunity to make teachable moments out of incidents of redirection. It gives children a take-away, a “re-direction” sending them on their way to better behavior with a clearer path.
- Be consistent. Be consistent. Be consistent. Be consistent. Get the point? Be consistent. Children look to their parents to teach them appropriate behaviors. Parents guide their children to those appropriate behaviors using positive speech, and the expectations have to be the same. every. time. It can’t be okay for children to jump on the bed today and get in trouble for that tomorrow. It isn’t fair to children if mom expects them to have quiet time in their room during the week while dad forgoes that quiet time in favor of watching football together (cough, my husband, cough). They are working so hard to learn what is appropriate, what is expected, and how to integrate it all. Any progress that is made in that area is immediately deterred when inconsistencies enter the picture. Be consistent. Be consistent. Be consistent.
- Implement logical consequences. Logical consequences are critical to success when it comes to redirection. They are paramount to the learning process for children. However, in order for them to work they have to live up to their name. They have to be logical. Logical consequences make sense to the child, are age appropriate, and are not punitive in nature. Here is a real life example from my house this week. From the top of the stairs M screams to me, “YOU DID NOT GIVE ME MY STORIES!!! (3 year olds are so fun, aren’t they?) My response and logical consequence was: “If you had said ‘Mommy, may I please have my stories,’ then I would have given them to you. Because you screamed at me, there will not be any stories during rest time today.” When a moment arises for a consequence to immediately make sense in an age appropriate way–seize it! These teachable moments are the holy grail of redirecting negative behaviors. However, if, for example, a child is speaking disrespectfully to a parent on the playground and the parent responds with “You cannot play with any Legos after dinner tonight,” then chances are the desired behavior will probably not magically appear. Time on the playground and Legos after dinner are not necessarily a logical connection. The child can’t really wrap his ever-developing mind around this and grab hold. In that case, chances are the negative behaviors will continue along with the parent’s persistent frustration.
If these 3 elements of redirection are in place, then chances are the rest will follow. If a redirection makeover is what you need, then choose one of the above top 3, commit to it, and implement it with your child. Give yourself time to make progress, celebrate it, and then tackle the next one. May the force be with you as you navigate this treacherous world of redirecting behaviors.
Find the joy~
PS–Do you need more help with redirecting your child? We’ve all been there. Contact us to schedule a consultation today. Sometimes it takes a village…