I Love You Rituals

I bought a wonderful book a few years ago entitled "I Love You Rituals" by Becky A Bailey. It's full of little finger games and rhymes to play with a young child. 

Even better, though, she has some great advice on helping your child to learn, to stay calm and focused and to yes, behave!

Something I found helpful were her words on noticing and giving feedback. Any parent knows that the phrase, "Look at me mum and dad" can be repeated forever.

Most of us have had a conversation like this:

Kid: (twirling around) "Look at this Mum"

Mum: (reading) "Oh, great. Mm hmm."

Kid: (two seconds later) "Mum, look at me. Look what I'm doing."

Mum: (looking down at book and in monotone) "Yep, I'm watching. You're fantastic."

Kid: (two seconds later) “Mum, look at this!” etc etc

Yeah right. I'm not watching at all!

Bailey says that research shows that children's brains need constant feedback in order to grow and develop. Giving feedback that is specific and tailormade to the occasion is far more useful in the long run than pretending to look and approve or even giving praise.

So the conversation above would ideally sound like this:

Kid: (twirling around) "Look at this Mum"

Mum: (watching) "You're twirling around. Your head is going around and around."

Kid: "I'm going around and around."

Mum: "You're still doing it. Your feet are working hard. You must be getting dizzy."

The child is quiet for a while, until she starts to jump and down...

“Look at me Mum” is not really a call for attention.  Instead, it’s a request for specific feedback. Our children need us to see what they are doing and tell them about it so it reinforces the learning in their brains.