Stop it, no don’t touch that, put it down, no stop, I told you know. Do you ever find yourself repeating this to your child? Or to the kids in your class? It is something all of us are too familiar with.
The back door is unlocked and you see your child heading for the garden and you say “no no no, wait put your shoes”, I said “wait put your shoes on” but they look back and keep going. Or instead of washing their hands after the toilet, you child splashes water and creates a flood in the bathroom even though you have repeatedly called in and asked them to “stop”.
It’s common that we get stuck in a loop of repeating ourselves, we ask the kids not to do something, they continue doing it, we ask again, they keep doing it and we either give up and let them do it or it ends up in tears because we have made it stop. This cycle can happen lots of times across the day and it is exhausting! I am sure you have asked yourself, why aren’t you listening to me? I know you can hear me why aren’t you doing as I say?
Here’s why, like everything we need to understand it from the viewpoint of the child, children can be impulsive they can grab things, splash water, run outside without shoes not thinking of the consequences- if I grab this glass it could smash, if I keep splashing water, my clothes will be wet, if I go outside without shoes I could get a cold or hurt my feet. Of course, this is typical, kids will be kids!
It becomes difficult when it becomes a constant battle and it is a choice that your child is making not to listen. Instead of getting caught in the don’t do it or no no no cycle, let’s approach it from a different angle that supports your child through the decision-making process.
Instead of “no no no no don’t touch it”, we could place our hand on the glass and say “hey buddy if this falls it will smash” then redirect your child “why don’t we play with the Lego or puzzle instead?” and of course lots of praise and play time when they go to the Lego.
Rather than repeatedly saying no turn the tap off and then eventually marching to the bathroom and shouting “stop splashing”. Go to the bathroom and say “Buddy, I asked you to turn this off, this is for washing our hands, your hands look nice and clean to me, I am going to turn it off” and redirect to another activity and again, lots of interaction for choosing an alternative.
Doing the above means we are supporting your child through the behaviours that we want to see and we are avoiding getting wound up and telling them what not to do. We are instead creating an opportunity for them to listen and helping them through the decision-making process.