19. Positive parenting tool: redirection

Posted under 30 Days of Awesome Parenting




(read about the adventure here)

positive parenting

Tip 19:  My number one positive parenting tool:



As a mum, but especially as a teacher of young children, I have learned that there is ALWAYS a moment before an incident occurs where I have an opportunity to intervene before things escalate out of control. I might not always use this moment effectively. Sometimes, I’m busy. Sometimes, I’m preoccupied. Sometimes, I’m just darn lazy.  But I know that if I tune my consciousness towards the children’s activity, and pay at least a little attention to the overall feel of the group, and listen to the children’s conversations , I can always stave off big emotional dramas and most challenging behaviours, simply by redirecting the children to a real, worthwhile task IN TIME.

The trick with this is to make sure that the things I redirect my child (or the kindergarten children) to, are age-appropriate, real world, valued, and honest tasks. While I can now (after many years of practise) just think up a quick task out of thin air, I find it much more effective if the tasks I re-direct them to are activities and jobs that are truly important in our everyday life.  Things that they know help the household run effectively.  Things that are necessary….like fetching the post from the letterbox, or wiping down the meal preparation bench, or feeding our pet fish. Not to mention helping mum (or teacher) do whatever I’m doing. Being ‘redirected’ to help an adult also means we have the opportunity to help dampen the fire that is possibly raging inside them, by being their safe place, as well as their guardian (angel) and a calm beacon of sensibility to imitate.

Of course, redirection works best when children are used to helping, caring, care-taking, and doing odd jobs, and regular jobs too (for example, setting the dinner table each night). Helping out (whether the actions are big or small) should be part of every child’s life from a very very young age… say two years old.  Two-year-olds are quite capable of carrying a plastic cup to the table for dinner, or ‘sweeping’ up using a dustpan and brush. They want to ‘help’ and given half a chance will happily join you in a helping act. Grab hold of that enthusiasm and don’t let go!  When these things are normalised, then redirection to a task is just another normal act in an ordinary joyful day.

But if your children aren’t already helping out around the house, it’s never too late. Start them today. Little things. Small steps.

When this activity is part of their everyday rhythm, then redirection works wonders to soften the sharp spurs of mean play, or gives them a chance to cool down alone and self regulate their emotions.

I’ve used this tool thousands of times over many years, and it truly works.  So long as we pay attention and redirect before the tension reaches it’s peak, we can manage behaviour and help everyone to have a happy day.

P.S: If you like this idea and want more, I have a very big list of new and practical ideas for redirection in my book.


Think of FIVE simple tasks or activities that children could do on their own, or supervised by an adult.  Contemplate how you would set these up (eg do you need any special tools, or equipment?) and how you would make sure the tools or equipment is in easy reach for a young child coming to complete a task. Brainstorm your idea list with a friend and write them down for later reference.

Action required:

Have a go at using redirection in the moment/s before an eruption can occur.  Reflect upon your attention and where it was placed. Did you notice the rising tension in the space? What were the signs? What happened when you called one child out of the space to complete a task?  Did the child cooperate?  What was your experience?


Commit to the task by writing it down here in the comments below or in your 30 days of AWESOME journal. 


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