Tricks of the trade

Parents, over the years, find themselves picking up some useful ‘tricks of the trade’, and often wish that SOMEONE had told them this before. So if you are a new parent then consider yourself (at least partially) forewarned, because here are some that I have learnt along my journey as a mother:

  • Use distraction wisely. When you child scrapes their knee in the park, the pain can often totally disappear when you suddenly point out – in your most fascinated voice – that “That cloud over there looks just like a dinosaur!”
  • Most children respond better if given advance warning about things. My kids take it better if, for example, I say, “We are going to leave the playground in five minutes…. in two minutes… in one minute… okay, choose your last thing to go on and then we are leaving.”
  • Children love choice.  Instead of saying, “You can’t have a chocolate – have an apple” try, “Can you choose which apple you like best from the fruit bowl?”
  • Entertain their imagination. I am often amazed by how much better my kids will respond to instructions like “time to for bed” if it is said by one of their soft toys, race cars, Octonauts characters, or anything other than just plain old me!
  • Make water the norm.  Water is cheap and healthy. If you want your children to drink water without fussing, then make it their usual drink from young. It’s much harder for kids to enjoy water if they are used to the strong flavours in juice.
  • Use sign language to reduce early frustration. Both of my children could sign before they could talk. Signing is much easier than talking for babies, and it has been shown to reduce frustration and tantrums as the child has a way of communicating their needs and wants. It is also a very special thing, as you gain insights into their sweet little minds that you might not otherwise have had. If you live in Canada or the USA then I highly recommend the ‘Signing Time‘ series.
  • Use a toothbrush from early on.  As soon as the first tooth peeps up – or even before – get them used to having a toothbrush and paste in their mouths.  For some unknown reason, brushing teeth can be a real battle with little kids.  I recommend starting with something like this.
  • Speak gently. I find that children respond much better if spoken to in a gentle, positive way. This has its place, of course – I am very firm on disciplining when needed – but often I find undesirable behaviour can be avoided if the right tone and approach is taken by the parent in the first instance. For example, instead of saying, “Right – pack up those cars now” I prefer, “Okay, guys, we’re going to pack the cars up now, because Daddy is about to come home and we love to have a tidy house for him, don’t we?” This gets a faster and happier response 99% of the time.

I would love to hear some more tips from others; what tricks of the trade have you picked up as a parent?

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3 Comments

  1. April 21, 2012 at 1:25 am

    I don’t have any tricks yet (we only have a five month old!) but these are great! 🙂

  2. Monique said,

    April 21, 2012 at 3:52 am

    Great tips!

  3. Kate said,

    April 21, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Such great advice!


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