In the beginning of this week I thought this tool was used mostly with younger children. I used distract and redirect on a daily basis when my boys were toddlers. However, this week I had several opportunities to practice this tool in many different ways with my almost 6-year-old.
Sense-of Humor—Greyson was in a “flipped lid state of mind” and was saying things such as “I hate you,” “Worst day ever!” or my favorite—“You wish I wasn’t even in this family.” Instead of flipping my lid back or telling him that what he was saying was totally ridiculous and untrue, I distracted him with a little unexpected silliness—tickling him while saying, “You think I don’t love you?” Then would completely overwhelm him with, “I love you’s,” and more playful tickles and kisses. Once he was totally distracted and calm, I was able to use other tools such as validating his feelings and asking some curiosity questions. After this (connection before correction) we came up with a plan (focus on solutions and take time for training) on what we could say or do next time he was feeling so angry.
Relating—Kids love it when they know you can relate—another way distracting and redirecting. Another one of my favorite comments from Greyson is when he says in his whinny voice, “That’s not fair!” What I want to say in my irrational and annoyed flipped list state is ‘That’s right—it’s not fair and neither is life!” But instead—I would relate to him by sharing a story of when I was his age and experienced something similar that wasn’t fair. Kids love knowing you have felt the same. It’s endearing when they say things such as, “You were once five?” or, “Your brother used to get things or do things you couldn’t do?”
Distraction—If all else fails; you can completely distract your kids by both completely changing the subject and making it about you or something that you did or saw that day. Or by saying with total enthusiasm—“I have a great idea!” Then come up with a completely new idea or game and hope they follow your lead with enthusiasm. Once again, when everyone is calm and you can then follow up with problem solving and solutions on how we could avoid a major meltdown, saying hurtful things, fighting with brother, etc.
Hugs—Always one of my favorite tools and defiantly one that can be use with almost every Positive Discipline tool. Always a great distraction and way to redirect is to ask your child if he or she would like a hug? If they say “No!” then ask if they’d give you one, because “I need a hug.”
Focus on Solutions—When your children are in the middle of a conflict—simply interrupt by saying, “ I have faith in you to come up with a solution. If they can’t, it is a big distraction to say, “I’ll take this _______ until you all come up with a solution that everyone agrees on.”
Again, a simple reminder that no one tool works every time and that when we are creative we will find many ways to use each tool—and to combine them. Have fun practicing this tool and notice how much a little distraction or redirection helps you as a parent.