Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Art of Redirection

Redirection: To change the direction or focus

How often do our kids go to bed crying, we dole out a time out or we storm into another room full of guilt because we just lost our patience with our child. As parents, teachers and caregivers, it is our job to teach children proper behavior. Very often, we use the strongest approach when all is needed is a gently word. We find ourselves getting into a battle of wills, which really nobody wins.

This is where the art of redirection comes in. Helpful Hallies™ Mighty Miracle Mist™ was developed to interrupt undesired behavior patterns in young children, so they can be redirected to exhibit more positive ones. The result is three fold:

1. Children are given a physical representation of the behavior being asked of them. They associate this as being outside of themselves, and no longer have to exhibit undesired behavior as a matter of principle.

2. An opening is being created where children can be redirected in a positive manner and will associate a positive experience with the desired behavior.

3. Parents, Teachers and caregivers now have a positive tool to assist them with redirecting the behavior of the child.

Helpful Hallies™ Mighty Miracle Mist™ came into being when my 4 ½ year old daughter was speaking in a tone that was disrespectful and inappropriate. My first instinct was to angrily tell her that she couldn’t speak to me that way. I knew in my heart that this would possibly stop the behavior or we would get into a battle of wills that would lead to a time out, and resentment from my daughter.

A quick flash popped into my head and I wished I had a tool that would just change how she was talking to me, and do so willingly. That when Helpful Hallies™ Mighty Miracle Mist™ was conceived. I created a quick mock up of Kind Voice Spray. I sprayed the room and said to my daughter in a pleasant and encouraging tone “the room has been sprayed with Kind Voice Spray, so only kind voices can be used now”. Well, the change was instant and remarkable. She no longer had to save face and remain angry out of principle. She intentionally asked in her kindest of voices “Mommy, may I have a glass of water”. Since then, she even asks for different sprays and regulates her own behavior.

In addition to being a parent of a preschooler, I am a teacher both of private music lessons, and in a preschool environment. Very often, my students will not feel confident stepping outside of their comfort zone, or have learning patterns that are not effective. I will spray “Good Thinking & Pay Attention” spray and encouragingly tell them that their brains are soaking in this good thinking. An instant change takes place and they do their work eagerly. Now the children ask for it before they perform task, and are more willing to step outside of their comfort zones.

Cooperation & Sharing spray works wonders when children are having difficulty sharing. Again, nobody wins a battle of wills. So, when sharing is “put into the air” or “the room is filled with cooperation”, young children get excited about working together or with parents and teachers. This spray also works great with transitions such as cleaning up or even going potty.

A special ed. teacher who used Mighty Miracle Mist in her class said that her students really feel better when using Mighty Miracle Mist, and they are acknowledging their feelings which they never did before.

Here's how it works.

Step 1. Use the power of suggestion:

Convincingly and encouragingly inform the child/ren that you are going to spray the room with the corresponding spray (use the name of the spray bottle you choose), and that once the room is sprayed, everybody in the room needs to behave accordingly. Example, “I am going to spray some Kind Voice into the air, and after that, everybody in the room needs to use a Kind Voice”.

Step 2. Take Action:

Choose the Appropriate Bottle. Spray the air, not the child/ren.

Step 3. Follow Up:

Convincingly and encouragingly remind the child/ren that the room has been sprayed for the appropriate behavior (again, use the name of the spray bottle you choose) and now everybody in the room, including yourself, needs to behave appropriately. “The room has been sprayed with Kind Voice and now everybody in the room, including me, needs to use a Kind Voice”.

The Four Sprays include:

Kind Voice & Good Manners, Cooperation & Sharing, Good Thinking & Pay Attention and Good Night.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Reward Vs. Punishment

My music history professor in college was amazing. It was one of my favorite classes, and he was a very popular professor. He used to reach into his pocket and see what kind of change he had, and offer a coin for a question. An easy question was only worth a penny, but a really hard one was worth a quarter. It wasn't the amount of money, obviously, that we were winning, but it was the principle of the win.

One day with a particularly difficult student, I decided to try out the concept-I teach private piano and violin lessons. I wanted this student to really try her best, so I looked into my wallet to see what kind of change I had. I offered her a "not so shiny 1996 penny" if the she could play a passage 3 times, or with no mistakes. Suddenly a huge smile crossed her face. A tedious task just got interesting to her.

Here's where it got interesting to me.

When she was working to get the penny, her attention was great and she achieved the task. I then told her to play the same passage 3 times and if she made a mistake, I would take the penny back. She couldn't even get through it once. Hmmm...

Of course, I gave her the option to win the penny again, which she did.

This got me thinking, I tried this with a bunch of my students and the same result happened. They performed so much better when there was a reward, instead of a punishment. Now, I wasn't bribing them, just sort of making things a bit more light hearted and fun. This really motivated the unmotivated students, and those already motivated just had a bit more fun.

I think that people are naturally motivated by "triumph" and avoid "failure" It feels better to win a race, than trying not to lose.

With our own children, it's so easy to let things go until we get to a point that we need to threaten punishment. What if we offered a reward early in the game for good behavior, good grades or just good eating?

Post a comment on what reward systems you use with your family.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It's Not The Same Old 9-5

I was working on the computer last night when I looked at the clock. It was 11:15PM. I sort of chuckled to myself and started thinking.

Working hours used to be 9-5. If you worked in a bank, they used to be 8-3. The world is changing and we are taking an active part in changing it. Parents want to be there for their kids, but very often out of necessity as well as choice, both parents work.

It's amazing what pioneering people are doing while juggling work and family. We are creating new working hours. Basically, you do what you can whenever you can, without interfering with the most important time...family time.

The wonderful thing is that this is becoming the accepted norm when we as mom-entrepreneurs are dealing with each other. As I was answering my emails last night, I got replies as late as 11:45PM. I mighty have gotten a few even later, but I finally turned off my computer and went to sleep.

Do you work odd hours to have the freedom to be with your family. I'd love to hear about it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

It Happened at the Store

The other day I was at Learning Express with my 5 1/2 year old daughter. They have these plasma cars and turtle ride on things that the kids can ride in the store.

My daughter was riding the plasma car and another girl was riding the turtle thing. There was a third girl (3 years old) who wanted a turn. She started throwing a tantrum "I WANT THE GREEN ONE, I WANT THE GREEN ONE!" Screaming and running around the store. This went on for about 10 minutes. Stopped when she got a turn, and started again when her turn was over.

I don't begrudge kids sharing or even waiting their turn, but here's my beef. As she is screaming, the mom just kept saying to me, "She has to learn to wait her turn", never once explaining to her daughter how exactly to wait. She would try to distract her (often mistaken for redirection), but her daughter was happier screaming.

I've been teaching for 15 years, and I specialize in preschool aged children. Preschoolers need direction and need to be taught how to behave appropriately. I so very wanted to intervene to give this little girl the instruction she so desperately needed, but I didn't feel it was my place.

Please feel free to comment if you have ever been someplace and wanted to help someone else's child deal with a situation.