Minutes before school time is always chaotic with my toddler. The one technique that helps me stay calm and reduce morning chaos is ‘distraction’. By the time your toddler is 18 months old, you would have realised that distraction is one of the most powerful parenting weapon. Distraction doesn’t work all the time, but, most of the time. It might sound simple, but the challenge is figuring out what to use as distractions. Here are few ideas that can help you keep your toddlers happy and clear the bad moods off at places like a restaurant, the doctor’s office, in line at the grocery store. Some of these techniques can even help you when they refuse a nappy change, or bath or get dressed.
- Sing a silly song - If a tantrum or a meltdown is about to happen, sing a song. A silly song that includes plenty of action “If you are happy and you know it” or animal sounds “Old McDonald had a farm”. Some of their favourite song is a good way to divert and grab your toddler’s attention.
- Make a funny face - Make a funny face and encourage your toddler to make one. Take a picture of your toddler’s funny face and show it to him.
- Make sounds - Start with some basic animal sounds and add few less familiar sounds. Include their newly learnt favourite sound. My toddler loves it when I make the sound of a train engine!
- Play peekaboo - This way you can steal the heart of a 3 months old or a 3 year old. My son could play peek boo for hours together.
- Dance together - Almost all the toddlers love to dance. Turn on a children’s music or his favourite song and start dancing. And, when he sees you having fun, he will obviously join you. And thus, distracted and some energy burnt.
- Crayons and paper crafts - Give them a paper or a small notebook and let them draw. And it is amazing with what you can do with a small piece of paper.
- Ask them questions - Ask them questions for which they know the answer to. Ask your toddler to show you certain colours or to tell the name of the colour of the object your are pointing to.
- Tell a story - There is not a single toddler who doesn’t love a story. Tell your child one of their favourite stories. Or, narrate a recent incident involving your kid or his friend to make him more interested.
- Hide an object - Hide a coin or any other small object in your hand and ask your child to guess which hand it’s in.
- ‘Bag of tricks’ - For public places pack a bag with ‘distractions’. Games, toys, books, puzzles and other kid-friendly activities will always come to your rescue in middle of a meltdown.
- Plastic containers - A box of empty plastic containers can be a source of delight for toddlers. They will be happy stacking them and finding the lid for all the containers.
Being able to distract your toddler is one of the most essential parenting skill. These distraction techniques might sound simple, but will come to your rescue when your unhappy toddler throws a tantrum. Distraction is best used to divert a child’s attention before he might do something wrong or might end up in a difficult behaviour.