As mentioned in our New Beginnings post, we have a three-year-old son that Bob likes to call ‘Mr. Giggles’. The reason our son has that nickname is because we do what we can to keep him as happy and positive as possible. We’d like to share some of those techniques with you today because we hope they will either help you or help someone you might know.
A couple techniques we use are:
- Give him something to look forward to
- Make several announcements about when things will be finished and then consistently follow-through
The best way I think I can explain these techniques is by providing an example:
Yesterday, I took our son to an indoor play area because of the heat and humidity. What I didn’t know was that though the rest of the building was air conditioned, the play area was not (since we don’t visit there often). This meant that he wasn’t going to have as much time there as I originally planned for. I also knew that there was a potential for him to get really upset when I announced it was time to go.
I gave him a good 15 minutes or so of uninterrupted play and then I started announcing that we were going to be leaving soon. In keeping with that, I kept making announcements soon after that we would be leaving in a few minutes, then a couple minutes, and so on. As expected, he verbally protested (mildly) after each announcement.
This meant that I had a choice. I could either crawl up in the play apparatus and drag him out kicking and screaming and then take away a privilege for a while when we got home; or I could make our day much easier on both of us by giving him something to look forward to.
I chose what I’ll call the ‘happier’ choice by giving him something to look forward to. The trick to this is to have several options available since the same one won’t always work every time. The other part to this is that what is offered will be different for each unique little one based on his or her interests. To give you an idea of what I mean, I’ll let you know what works for our little guy next.
I first offered him his favorite drink (which I had along from home), but it didn’t work this time. Then I tried to coax him with his favorite at-home (teaching) movies, but still no luck. I also tried more food (left-over he hadn’t finished that we were taking home – we never offer and very much limit sweets) and then offered an extra (long-way-home) ride in his favorite “Mommy’s van” all to no avail. So I then proposed a Mickey Mouse episode on my cell phone (that is free with our cell plan) which happened to be the lucky winner for the day.
When he agreed to that, I explained to him that he first had to come down from the play apparatus to see it. Once he did, I then gave him the next task of needing to get his shoes on before he could watch it. After he completed that task, I explained he had to come to the van before viewing it. Once he was safely strapped in his car seat, I allowed him to watch the Mickey Mouse episode on the way home. And all of this allowed us both to actively create happy memories instead of negative ones.
What all this resulted in was both of us having a happy day instead of both of us being miserable had I taken what I’ll call the ‘more forceful’ option. He also happily cooperated the entire time as well and voluntarily did what needed to be done.
I also want to point out that all of the things I brought up did not cost any extra money (except for the potential to spend an extra mile or two of gas) because one of our main goals is to offer things that will not cost extra and we do that by offering things that we already have.
How Adults Can Apply This
This type of system can also potentially help you as an adult as well. If there is something that you really don’t want to do, then you could come up with something that you would enjoy looking forward to while you are doing the task. I know that looking forward to something really helps me get through some things that I’d rather not do and it always helps me stay happier during the task. You can even strive to find things you enjoy that don’t cost you anything extra as well.
What to Keep in Mind
When it comes to our son, the occasional temper-tantrum still happens. That said, we’ve found employing these techniques as often as we can to a variety of situations really helps us stay happier as a family overall.
If you’d like to try these techniques, please note that it might take a bit to get yourself and your little one into a new routine and you may have a few rough moments at first. The key is to keep reinforcing it and stay firm because once you are past those beginning hiccups, the happier rewards can be well worth-it.
We do employ other techniques as well, and we explore those in our Respect for Our Little Ones post if you’d like to look it over in a little bit. For now, we’d like to know what techniques help you?
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