5 Reasons to Ditch Distraction

img_8787No Bad Kids by Janet Lansbury

I am reading No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury who teaches the importance of toddler discipline based on the RIE principles of Magda Gerber.

Ms. Lansbury explains why using redirection or distraction is not a good way to handle misbehavior in children for the long-term.

Certainly redirection can help us dodge a bullet momentarily when a child is acting out, misbehaving, or having a temper tantrum, especially when out in public. It’s easier and less likely to cause friction between you and the child. But if a child is using crayons and drawing on the sofa and we just redirect by saying “Here, why don’t you try drawing on this paper instead,” the child isn’t learning anything. By distracting them we haven’t taught them that it is not okay to draw on the sofa. And he may very well try to draw on the sofa again.

Phoniness isn’t good modeling for children. They derserve and need an honest response. Staying calm and a correction and a real choice is all that’s needed. Simply say, “You can draw on paper or do something else but you cannot draw on the sofa.”

Yes the child may get upset and they are allowed to be upset. It’s good to acknowledge, “I know you are upset because you wanted to draw on the sofa.”

Kids need to learn safe ways to deal with conflict at home. They need practice having safe disagreements. By redirecting them we are not teaching them how to deal with disagreements appropriately. They need time to learn to how to manage conflicts rather than ignore them.

Why Distraction Doesn’t Work:

1. Phoniness. Children deserve and need honest responses.
2. Takes away opportunities to learn from conflict.
3. No guidance. What do they learn if we just distract them?
4. Underestimates and discourages attention and awareness. Distracting children asks them to forget what just happened.
5. Respect. Distraction is trickery that underestimates the child’s intelligence and ability to learn. They deserve same respect we give adults.

When a child is acting out or misbehaving keep calm, kind, and empathetic. Breathe, pause, and observe what is happening before impulsively responding. Yelling and punishment aren’t needed. Acknowledge the child’s feelings and point of view. Respond with comfort if the child wants it.

Dealing with these situations openly, with patience, empathy, and honesty — braving a child’s tears and their being mad at you — is the path to a loving relationship, with trust, and respect.

You can purchase your own copy of No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by clicking the links in article or below:


No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame

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