Written by: Jessica Diamond, MPH, RDN
One surprising thing about parenting is sometimes the smallest, simplest tweaks can bring about the biggest changes. With this in mind, we’ve rounded up 3 super easy tricks that each pay off big time! These have been working so well in our homes that we almost didn’t want to share them and then jinx it!
- “Connect, then redirect.” Dan Siegel, the parenting guru, said it best: when we connect emotionally with our child before redirecting, it calms their nervous system and helps them think more logically. What does this actually look like in practice? At a basic level, it means validating your child’s feelings before you break the news that whatever they’re asking for isn’t going to happen. For example, let’s say your kid is asking to go outside, but it’s not going to happen. Here’s what you can say instead of just saying “no”: “You love playing outside, and I love playing outside with you. It’s so much fun! What’s your favorite thing to do outside? We’re not going outside now, but we’ll have to do that next time!” When we tell you this simple trick has cut the tantrums in half, we’re not kidding!
- “You didn’t want this to happen.” The other day, Dr. Becky posted a reel about how these six simple words can change your relationship with yourself, your partner, and your kids. Why are these words so powerful? Because they show the other person that we see the positive intention behind an outcome they didn’t want. Here are a few examples she shared:
- You’re driving and get stuck in traffic. Instead of saying “Why did I go this way?,” say “I didn’t want this to happen.” This helps you avoid self-blame and negative self-talk while showing yourself some compassion.
- Your child is building a block tower and it falls over. Instead of saying “You’ll make it stronger next time,” say “You didn’t want this to happen.” This response acknowledges that they are feeling disappointment or frustration, which will make them feel seen and understood. (This is also a great opportunity to build frustration tolerance. Check out our article, 5 Ways to Help Our Kid Handle Frustration, here!)
- Your partner breaks a glass or dish. Instead of saying “Don’t go so fast!,” say “You didn’t want this to happen” so that they feel supported and understood rather than judged or criticized.
Hayley and Tyler have been doing this with each other and with their kids, and it really works!
- Give your kids some runway! Prepare your kids for difficult transitions in advance by communicating boundaries from the start. So often in parenting, we think that if we confront the undesirable behavior, it will remind our kids to do that behavior. But we’ve learned it’s actually the opposite! Reminding them what the plan is (even if they know the plan well) removes the opportunity for a power struggle and will make transitions way more peaceful and pleasant.
For example, Jess has been struggling to get Bryce from book time to bedtime lately. There’s been lots of “One more book” or “I need water” or “Can you do this on more time?” – you know the drill! But instead of negotiating, Jess has started talking through these feelings with Bryce and then preparing him for the transition: “Bryce, bedtimes have been hard recently. We know it’s hard to say ‘night night’ to mommy and daddy and end your day. We get that it’s hard to say bye to our day.” Then we pause and let him talk before preparing him: “We love reading books with you, but after your books, it’s time for bed. We will sing your song one time and then walk out.” It worked like a charm!
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