How to Shift your Child’s Behavior

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A few weeks ago my 5 year old and I decided to head to the beach…

The weather was good so we were going to ride our bikes. I packed beach toys, sand buckets, drinks, and a lunch. I had the bike wagon loaded up and we were almost ready to head out.

Just then I turned around to see my daughter standing in the doorway wearing a pink dress-up costume, dress-up jewelry and pink plastic fuzzy dress-up slippers?

Really? She knew we were heading to the beach. I wanted to scream.

I was not ready to deal with the challenge of getting her to change. Then again what choice did I have? How was she going to ride her bike?

Separating a girl from pink dress-up clothes is NOT a fun or easy task.

And honestly, I didn’t want to ‘make’ her change. I just wanted her to realize what a not-so-good idea it was to wear such an outfit to the beach.

Pink Fuzzy Slippers


So, I decided to try something new. Here’s how it went down.


1.) What was I presently observing? Other than craziness…

Me: “Wow, look at that outfit and those pink plastic fuzzy dress-up slippers. Those are fancy.”


2.) What was she feeling?

Me: “Are you feeling the need for dress-up and play today?”

Daughter: “Yes. Isn’t it beautiful, mommy?”

Me: “Yes, I love your outfit and shoes.”


3.) What were we both needing have happen to get out the door…

Me: “We need to make sure that we both get to the beach safely on our bikes. Do you think those shoes and that dress-up costume will help us do that?”

Daughter: Silence


4.) Making my request regarding the situation.

Me: “Would you be willing to think about how your outfit and shoes may or may not get us to the beach. And think about how you will walk through the hot sand? And what about a swim suit?”


I didn’t say a word and she was gone. When she returned her clothes and shoes were changed and she was ready to go.


I gave her a high five. We talked about it later and she told me that she remembered how HOT the sand can be and wanted to make a good choice.


What could’ve been a painful screaming match of me trying to force my daughter to change her clothes turned into a conversation. It doesn’t always go that easy but once she understood she was able to make her own decision.


Isn’t that what we want from our children? To be able to guide themselves to eventually make the right decision. Not because someone told them so, but because they were able to make the decision themselves.


Is it always that easy? No. Some days are better than others but with time and practice it becomes easier. It’s like a yoga practice, tennis, or cooking. It takes practice. The greater the connection, the greater the cooperation.

I invite you to try using the above sentence frames. Or if you know someone who might benefit from this, please share it. #parentingshift

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