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Distracting Children When Misbehaving

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 6 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Distracting Children Redirecting

Kids sometimes misbehave, it's just a fact of life. Parents have a number of options available to them to guide and control their children's behaviour, with many choosing to distract or redirect their children's attention when they are misbehaving.

Avoiding Tears and Emotional Outbursts
Experienced parents and childminders know that saying "no-no" to a toddler often results in loud and unhappy reactions from the little ones. While some points need to be made with a clear and distinct, "no!" such as disobedience of safety rules, most lesser offences need only a simple redirection of the child's attention. When very young children misbehave, it is not usually because they are trying to be naughty or belligerent, but simply because they do not yet fully understand what is expected of them. While it is important for parents and other carers to teach their kids appropriate behaviour, lessons are often absorbed slowly, with repetitive reminders necessary before little ones begin displaying consistent and self-directed behaviour control. While these lessons are being worked on, parents can do well to offer gentle reminders as they divert their child's attention to a more acceptable activity.

Effective Methods of Distracting and Redirecting
Children often get so involved in their activities that they lose sight of everything else, including behavioural guidelines that their parents have implemented. Additionally, it takes children a while to internalise the tendency to control their emotions, making them prone to excessive displays of anger or frustration when things don't go their way. When you combine the two characteristics of young children, it is easy to see why they can sometimes test the patience of their parents and other carers. Rather than engaging in an ongoing battle of wills with small kids, though, smart caregivers opt to redirect the attention of kids from unacceptable behaviours to those deemed more desirable. For instance, if a child seems determined to play with tabletop items that the parents would rather that they didn't, carers can attempt to redirect the child's attention by engaging them in a game or offering a more appropriate plaything, such as a colourful balloon. This same technique works well when children request inappropriate snacks or beverages, instead offering healthy, but kid-friendly treats.

Beyond Toddlers
While older kids cannot be easily "fooled" into accepting something that they don't want, distraction and redirection techniques can still be effective. Often, school aged kids are fully aware of parental expectations, but will test their limits, nonetheless. Parents can offer reminders as to appropriate alternatives, allowing kids and parents to both go away from negotiations feeling that they've "won." Allowing kids to have their "second choice" when they want to do something that their parents may not agree with can help kids to feel that they have some control over their lives, while keeping the kids' behaviour within guidelines that parents can live with.

Focusing On the Good Stuff
All too often, parents fail to show their children that they notice and appreciate their good choices and behaviours, instead focusing on the times that the kids misbehave. A simple change of attitude and focus, choosing to spotlight their kids' positive moments and minimise the attention given to those naughty actions can have an enormous effect on the happiness of the household.

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