Whether you are babysitting for a friend or relative or whether you want to minimize the crying with your own child, these 15 seconds will improve your life immensely — and immediately!
So the other day, two mothers were – civilians please read on, especially if you ever need to babysit someone’s child – working out the details of taking care of the other’s little one because one mom suddenly had to visit her doctor. The Helpful Mom agreed to take 16-month old little Johnny out of his stroller and transport him with her set of wheels.
Helpful Mom immediately took Johnny and placed him into her stroller, and the wailing began. Helpful Mom’s first instinct was to reach for a pacifier and give it to the little boy, which wouldn’t work anyway…. If only she had taken 15 seconds and done something else…
In this case, little Johnny was upset not because he wanted to suck on something but because he was – without warning – plucked from his cozy spot and placed elsewhere. He was confused. Imagine if some giant just grabbed you from your comfy spot on a sofa and plopped you outside on a cold bench without explanation. You would say, “What the fudge?!” Yes, we are PG-rated here.
So, keep reading for the 15-second, Explain-Then-Go technique!
In Johnny’s case a third mother, Technique Mom, observed the situation, and while Helpful Mom went off to clean the pacifier, Technique Mom quickly knelt down to Johnny’s level. She smiled and said, “Honey, your mom has to go take care of something, so Helpful Mom is going to put you into her stroller so you can have a playdate with her son, little Scottie. We need you to switch strollers so Helpful Mom can take you on a fun walk to her house with Scottie. Do you understand, Sweetie? So, you’ll see your mom after you have gone to Helpful Mom’s house and have played with Scottie and have had some snacks. It will be so much fun!”
Then the crying stopped.
Johnny not only understood but seemed to appreciate the update. And really, who wouldn’t? When dealing with children — no matter the age – please give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they can and will understand simple explanations of what is going on in their world.
Once the crying stops, this is your cue to move on. And, if you use this technique before any crying starts, you can definitely transition smoothly to the next thing.
After the explanation and/or any crying stops, immediately go on to the next activity. Do not hesitate to go! Doing so only leaves room for little ones to change their minds. Keep them distracted by just going.
Common Situations to Use EXPLAIN-THEN-GO
One of the most common times this type of tantrum happens is when diapers need to be changed. Most people see that their tot needs a diaper change. They immediately swoop up little Susie or James mid-activity and are puzzled as to why it’s usually a huge battle. You know the kind — complete with kicking legs and screaming that could pierce an eardrum.
Consider those 15 seconds and say, “Little Jimmy, we need to change your diaper. After you find the next piece of the puzzle, you will need to take a quick break to change your diaper.”
Another common situation is when leaving a playdate, playground, or other fun place. Most caregivers just grab their little ones and head out. Again, cue the loud crying and kicking legs.
All you need is those 15 seconds to announce, “Susie, we need to go. So in just a moment we are going to put on our coats. Let’s get ready to say good-bye.”
It really is that easy.
This technique of giving children a heads-up and quick explanation of what is happening next – especially during unexpected situations – helps keep them calm because they then have knowledge of what is going on around them.
Go ahead. Try it. You’ll be amazed at what a difference 15 seconds makes.