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Parenting Pointers: The Power of Redirection

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Parenting Pointers: The Power of Redirection

Redirection is a simple technique to stop a negative behavior, avoid blow-ups, and focus on a solution. I like to consider parenting techniques as tools in a toolbox. You pull out the technique you need for the job at hand. Redirection is quick and easy and quite effective.

Redirection is simply pointing your children away from something you don't want them to do and towards something you are okay with. If your child is playing with the remote, you may gently take the remote and replace it with a toy remote. You don't have to say anything, use a timeout or any other parenting technique. It's simply this for that.

Sometimes it works very well and sometimes the child is not happy with the redirection. If it works, you have saved yourself the burden of lecturing, giving consequences, etc. If it doesn't work, you simply pull out another parenting tool. You may tell your child you recognize he or she is sad and offer a hug. You may choose to move on to offer alternative options.


Ways to Use Redirection:

  1. Trade one object for another. If your child wants to play with something off-limits or is trying to take a toy from another child, redirection can work really well. Just swap out what they were after for something different.

  2. Redirect during transitions. Does your child get upset when it is time to say goodbye? Focusing attention on an object, a song, or a goal can help take attention away from the loss to something the child is interested in. Maybe it is time to put away a favorite activity for dinner. If you focus on something enjoyable for the child it can make transitions easier.

  3. Redirect away from disappointments. If you are shopping and your child is upset that they can't get a toy they want, you could redirect them to something different in the store or with something in your cart.

  4. This first then that. Many struggles can be averted by laying out what needs to happen to get what they want. It might be saying eat your dinner first then you may have ice cream. You may go to your friend's house after you clean your room. For more on ways to say no without using the word "no," click here.

The ultimate goal is to intervene in a quick, calm way to stop a behavior. This allows you to keep your other parenting tools aside for more important matters. It is the least restrictive response to a simple problem. It is also a good starting place. If it fails, you move on to more advanced tools.

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