Call it whatever you like—speak, chat, converse, babble, blather, yak or gab—the act of simply talking to our kids is highly underrated.
This is especially true when we are around young children who haven’t fully developed language skills yet.
If you are a parent of a child anywhere from age one to three, then you’ve probably dealt with the Raggedy Anne Doll body flop, as well as the world has come to an end, all out crying fit, on at least a semi-regular basis.
Now, take a moment and imagine a day where there are no melt downs or tantrums, only smooth transitions from one activity to the next along with rainbows, butterflies and maybe even a unicorn! Well, that might be pushing it, but it truly is possible to have breakdown free days.
Over my 10 years of nannying, I discovered that the simple act of talking, chatting and gabbing away plays a big part in allowing transitions to run smoothly. The more I talked and engaged children in active dialog about the day, the less resistance I got.
Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the biggest difference, it just takes paying a little more attention to how we communicate and interact.
I’ve shared this simple secret with many parents and clients. The effortless nature of this technique is what makes parents watch in amazement as they see the magic of conversing unfold into calm, easy-going kids.
It works like this:
1. Outline the happenings of the day.
“Bobby, after breakfast we are going to take your brother to school and then go to the museum. After the museum we will have lunch, take a nap and then pick up your brother…”
2. Engage by asking questions.
“Bobby, what are we going to do after breakfast? Bobby, where will your brother be while we are at the museum? What are we going to do after we go to the museum?”
3. Repeat, repeat, repeat!
This part is vital to achieving success with this technique.
Go through steps one and two before transition times during the day, or even the night before. “Bobby, tomorrow after breakfast we are going to school. You will get to play with your friends, while mommy is at work.”
“Where are we going after breakfast tomorrow Bobby? Where is mommy going?” Then, repeat the question sequence in the morning before school.
So, how does this help? Why does it work?
Well, when we actively engage our kiddos in conversations such as this, we are calming their anxiety about what is happening throughout the day. Think about it, a lot of things they experience throughout the day are completely new to them. As adults, if someone took us to a place we were unfamiliar with and didn’t tell us where we were going or what we were doing we would probably get all Raggedy Anne Doll on them as well.
Engaging them in conversation by asking questions gets their little brains working. It’s a great activity in using their memory as well as building sequencing skills.
By repeating this process throughout the day, it helps the daily routine to sink in. They begin to anticipate what is coming next, things become less abrupt and they ease into the flow of the day.
Overall, this process builds trust and allows our little ones to feel as if they are truly a part of things. Instead of feeling like everything around them is happening to them, they begin to see their self-worth and feel their value in this world.
Big picture: This paves the way for a close knit family built on open communication and trust. Which can be a big help in the teenage years.
Helpful Tip: If there is a part of the day that is especially difficult for your little one, like leaving the park, being dropped off at school or getting into the car, try using the steps above on full blast. See what happens.
Who knows, you might get that unicorn after all! Or at least a tantrum free day. And that’s pretty darn good in my book.
Try it out! Share your experience below!
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Author: Leanna Long
Apprentice Editor: Guenevere Neufeld; Editor: Emily Bartran