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Do you see this when you are out shopping? – young children “losing it” in shopping centres? Throwing tantrums. Red faces. Crying. Screaming. Sometimes you see parents “losing it” and screaming at the kids.
Here are “ surprisingly easy techniques” of diversional therapy that you can use to help reduce meltdowns before they happen – little tricks I learned from Julia Tyack* from Tyack Health.
I’ve used basic diversional therapy (distraction) with my young daughter to divert her attention when she gets upset.
As usual, Julia teaches me more – including a simple “trick” that I will use in the future.
This post was originally written in the lead-up to Christmas. The tips are applicable at all times of the year!
Here’s our chat.
If you know anyone else who can benefit from Julia’s tips – please feel free to share this post.
Also, if YOU have any tips on how to keep your kids calm and contented when you take them shopping, please share in the comments section below.
Tony: This is a big problem this time of year. You’re out running around busy doing Christmas shopping. You have to take your kid or kids with you. It’s crowded. It’s frustrating. How can you keep kids calm and in control? I see so many kids (and parents) “losing it”. Any tips?
Julia: It’s important to remember that kids around 7 and under have a very different perception of the world and a different perception of time. Being taken around shopping centres can be very frustrating for kids. It can be a real pressure cooker – so it’s important to release that pressure. There are simple things parents can do – like carrying a cool, moist face washer and running it over your child’s face.
That surprises and diverts attention and all of a sudden it calms the nervous system. You can even run it down the spine. It can release building emotional pressure.
Is something you did with your kids?
Oh yeah. I’d often take a cool, moist washer in a little zip bag and just have it there if the kids got frustrated. Or even tired
Tactile things are a great way to calm children down and take their attention away from what was building up inside them.
Is there a time limit for taking kids shopping? Is it only a matter of time before kids “go feral”?
I think that is a very important thing to remember. Children have short time spans. Adults should realise that kids’ coping span is a limited commodity.
So you don’t drag them around for too long – at least not without a plan. For children, help them to “understand time” – give them a watch or mobile phone and tell them just how long you expect to be. They then set their expectations and can look every so often how that time is passing.
Also, take a break from shopping and go do something that is a treat for kids to help them forget that they’ve been tramping around a shopping centre.
Another great diversional therapy technique that many shops have recognised is that children love to mimic parents and while the parents are busy doing things the kids are getting bored. Boredom is a big part of the pressure cooker or frustration for kids.
Some shops have little kid-sized trolleys that kids can wheel around and be “involved” in the shopping. Kids can mimic their parents and not get bored – AND even help with shopping. I know it’s often faster for parents to grab items themselves – but keeping the kids involved can help keep them calm.
It’s a great way to take kids’ minds off being bored. You can get kids to help in getting certain easy-to-get items – little tasks so the kids can feel part of it.
I’ve seen those little trolleys and I just thought they were “cute” rather than part of a strategic plan for diversional therapy! My daughter loves using them.
It’s very good thinking to help make shopping more fun for kids and less stressful for parents.
Where do YOU learn all this stuff? How do you get so many tips?
Sometimes it’s experience. I do have six children and thirteen grandchildren and there’s been lots of trial and error. I can tell you what doesn’t work as well as what does work.
What doesn’t work? What can you warn us about – what doesn’t work?
What doesn’t work is telling the child that they’re naughty. I’ve been guilty of doing it – making the child feel that they are the fault. I only wish I knew then what I know now. Fortunately, today with technology and the internet and sharing, we can all learn from each other’s mistakes.
Tony: Thanks for sharing your tips and experience. Very needed advice – this time of year!
Julia Tyack* is the founder of Tyack Health and one of around 50 practitioners practicing multidisciplinary health at the centre.
I help Julia improve her writing – including song lyric writing. Julia gives me lots of tips about health and nutrition and parenting. Plus, she is always feeding me healthy foods and drinks including juices! She has a nice, friendly way of explaining things so I often ask her all sorts questions.)
And good luck with staying calm with your Christmas shopping!