The Most Effective Parenting Technique for Young Children (Hint: It’s not Time-Outs)…

IMG_0759Meet “Quackers,” a common guest in our bathroom for the past year-and-a-half.  He visits almost every night to chat with my 5-year-old daughter as she goes to the bathroom.  Yes, maybe I am the one doing the talking for him, but it is definitely Quackers who is telling me what to say.  If he is lucky, my daughter will feed him a pretend Oreo as she sits down to go to the bathroom.  This is Quacker’s favorite treat.

Why, you may ask, do we talk to our shower curtain every night?  Well, I’ll tell you. My daughter (then age 4) would hold off going to the bathroom as long as she could.  One day, to entice her to come and give it a try, I started to pretend that Quackers (whom she later named) was talking to her and wanted her to come visit him.  Sadly, he could only talk once she was on the potty.

I’ll give you another example and introduce you to Cordelia.  This same daughter has to have a monthly contact placed on her eye by a technician.  We moved and our new technician had a difficult time actually getting the contact in her eye.  For two months in a row it took three individual hour-long sessions to finally successfully get the contact in her eye.

When the third month came along, the technician and I devised a plan where the contact was held in a taco shape that would open and close to act as a mouth to ‘talk’ to my daughter. We quickly decided on the name “Cordelia the Contact,” and the two just really hit it off.  Cordelia pleaded to please be allowed in my daughter’s eye, where she would have great fun.  My daughter decided to hold her eye open just a moment longer, and the contact went in her eye.  It took only three tries as opposed to three full hour appointments.

Utilize your children’s imagination.  This is a magical time.  Not only does it motivate your children, they enjoy playing make-believe with you.  You might feel silly, but give it a try.  Anything will do.  Most of the time when I use this technique, I grasp at my limited creativity and come up with something that is utterly ridiculous.  But it still works.  And you know what?  I always come away feeling really good inside. For explanation’s sake, let me provide one more example.

Let’s say your son needs to clean up his toys.  You can act startled and say, “Do you hear that?!?  A toy-eating dinosaur is coming.  Oh no!  I heard another foot-step!  Hurry, I’ll help you.  We can’t let him eat your toys!”  Notice that I said “I’ll help you.”  That is key.  The reason this technique works is because you are doing it with your child.

Our Quacker visists are less frequent now, but just this past weekend while visiting her Grandpa my daughter noticed a duck-shaped soap dispenser in his bathroom and said, “Look, Quackers came with us,” and had a nice conversation with him.

Your children love you and love to spend time with you.  Your children also love make-believe.  Why not utilize this to help you with your parenting needs? Don’t miss out on this magical time of your children’s lives.


2 Comments to “The Most Effective Parenting Technique for Young Children (Hint: It’s not Time-Outs)…”

  1. I love this. I’ve been trying something similar with my 3-year-old, by pretending her little brother is talking to her. She has never been fond of him and is generally hostile to him when he is messing with her stuff but she seems to get a long with him a little better when he ‘explains’ his point of view to her. The other day he was taking apart the railroad tracks she was putting together. Usually this would cause her to scream and perhaps even push him away (even though she always gets in trouble for that). So I said (in the voice I use for him), “I’m sorry, I don’t want to wreck your tracks, but I just can’t stop myself because I’m so little!” and she responded sweetly, “that’s okay” and gave him a little pat. I wish I could get inside her head. It’s amazing that she reacts so well to this but doesn’t get it at all if I just try to explain to her that he is little and doesn’t understand what is going on.

    I hadn’t thought about trying it with other things…we need to work on getting more buy-in for clean-up time, so I’ll give it a try there.

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