Focus on the body part

Sometimes a slight tweak in wording is all it takes to get kids to listen (and comply). Here’s Misty’s:

My goal in stores is to keep breakable things unbroken by my children.  They are ages 1, 2, and 3.  Our most successful  maneuver goes something like this: "*Jenny*, look at your hand!  Tell your hand not to touch those glasses.  Great!  Great!  Don’t forget to tell your hand good job!"  This technique has worked for wandering kids too — we ask them to tell their feet what to do (stop, go, pick a square to stand on) and where to go.  The key seems to be to have the kids focus on the body part in question.

A slight variation works at bedtime. The old "Don’t get out of bed!" never got us very far so we found an improv that seems to hold some sort of magic. Tried and true, "Keep your head on your pillow" is frequently a winner. Don’t know why or how, and don’t care!  And with that, good night!

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  1. Josh says

    I know you say you don’t care, but this is one of my interests.. What you are basically doing is implanting hypnotic suggestions to your kids; the bonus is that at such a young age, there’s no need for actual “hypnosis” since they are in a completely open and receptive state in the first place (Ask any child to close thier eyes and imagine; it’s very vivid).

    Your comments prove something wrong that has been a mis-conception based purely on the fact that people are too rigid; traditional “psycology” states that you can’t hypnotize a child under 5, or at least that it’s near impossible. The trick that noone bothered to pay attention to is that they take suggestions regardless of being hypnotized or not, as long as you phrase or present it properly (“Tell your head to stay on the pillow”, or the all-time fav: “There; All better!”)

    Quick note: “Hypnosis” has gotten a very bad rap for a long amount of time.. What I am talking about here is simply taking what kids do anyways (subconciously absorb _everything_) and making it a concious effort on the part of the parents. Not putting your kids into a trance, and not trying to change or alter them in any way shape or form.

  2. Josh says

    (quite edit: it parenthacks stole a word ;) ):

    ‘…as long as you phrase or present it properly (“Tell your head to stay on the pillow”, or the all-time fav: (kiss owie better) “There; All better!”)’

  3. Ted Tsort says

    Sorry, not hypnosis.

    I think this has more to do with you aren’t giving them “negative” instructions (“Don’t”). Instead, you are giving them affirmative instructions (Do!).

  4. Josh says

    Again, not “Hypnosis”, but the same receptive state that hypnosis brings about… There’s alot that I’m not mentioning, because this is a parenting forum, not a discussion on receptive states.

    Specifically, if you look at the proper hypnotists and practitioners of NLP ( ) you’ll find that the way that a sentence or “suggestion” is phrased determines it’s effect, and further to that; these types of “instructions” fall into the exact sort of patterns that are used in NLP and hypnotherapy.

    I have conciously used this type of suggestive leading to amazing results in treating things like; sleepnessless, fears, general and specific pain, and other more subtle types of things.

  5. says

    I noticed something like this myself recently. If I tell my kid to “look at me,” she’ll likely going on doing what she’s doing. But if I tell her “look at my eyes,” I get her attention a lot quicker.

  6. says

    This is a great tip! Sometimes, however, the desire to TOUCH TOUCH TOUCH is way too strong, especially when things are really interesting or beautiful. So we had a rule that he could touch anything a grownup could touch (so, not, say, artworks in a museum, but fabric at the fabric store, etc.) but with ONE FINGER. (Which we made sure was clean, first.) That way you are pretty safe on the breaking/soiling front, and the child is not overly tempted to get grabby.

  7. momofboys says

    My Neighbor, who has many degrees, and a very qualified man in my book, once gave me a great piece of advice. It has stuck with me, and made it through a few years of child rearing, and childcare settings.
    He told me when you say things, children visualize what you are saying. So you when giving instructions, tell them what you want them to do, or what you want to happen, so they can visualize it.
    An example:
    DO SAY: Hold onto that cup very tightly with your hands, so it doesn’t slip. (they envision themselves holding onto the cup)
    DON’T SAY: That Glass will slip if you don’t hold on tightly. (they envision themselves letting the glass slip)