Redirecting Child Behavior: The Art of Distracting Children


Natural parents have a knack for redirecting children’s behavior. I’m sure you’ve seen them. They are the parents who can handle many children without any problem. Children don’t fight. They don’t argue. They just seem to always be happy and well behaved. This is the power to redirect the child’s behavior as an alternative to discipline and face-to-face conflict.

An example of how to redirect child behavior

When a kindergarten student approaches the teacher with a pair of scissors, the teacher who is a natural directs this child toward something that will divert his attention from the scissors. As she does this, the teacher reaches out and places her hand on the sharp edge of the scissors. As she redirects herself to the boy, the boy drops the scissors and they are now in the safe hands of the teacher. There was no conflict. There was no drama. The boy is safe and so is the classroom. This is a perfect example of how to redirect a child’s behavior.

How child behavior redirection works at home

This parenting method is very powerful. It allows you to get your children to do what you need without the power struggles that normally exist between parents and children. The way this plays out is by using words and physical direction to get your children to follow your instructions. So if you are telling your kids to put their shoes on, you should give them to them while telling them to put them on. This is in contrast to the stereotypical method if you tell your child what to do without participating in the activity. Remember these are children. These children still need to be taught. It may not look like any form of redirection, but it is exactly that. You are giving them directions away from your current activity and pointing them in the direction you want them to go.

In addition to using this method to accomplish tasks, it can be used to prevent or redirect tantrums. At the beginning or in the middle of a tantrum, you can redirect your child by giving him something positive to focus on. Sometimes this positive approach is as simple as talking about a routine activity. It could be what they had for breakfast, what they did at school, what their favorite book is, and much more. The goal is to get the child to think about something other than her tantrum.

Is this good for your children?

For those who believe that the only method of parenting is to use strict punishment, this will not feel comfortable or good. The reason is that those who believe in strict punishment do not see other methods of teaching children as effective. However, if the purpose of discipline, not punishment, is to teach the child, why not get up and help him learn how to do what you want him to do? You will find that it is much easier to help them than to yell at them until they finally follow your instructions. Not only will your child be happy, but so will you. It’s not difficult, but it requires you to work.

Where else can this be used?

The concept of redirecting your child is not just limited to working with children. I’m sure there have been times in your life when you’ve wanted to change the subject. Well, the methods here work in all sorts of areas. It works with toddlers, teens, school-age kids, college kids, and even adults. You can mirror, you can redirect, or many other methods and strategies. You just have to learn how.