Redirecting is helping a child change from an undesired activity to one that is acceptable--for both of you. Unlike constantly saying "no," and having power struggles, successful redirecting is a win-win proposition. In redirecting, we talk about what the child can do. Some specific examples of redirecting include:
- Trading objects with a baby.
- Telling an angry child she cannot hit, but she may use words such as "I don't like that!"
- Talking about the function of objects, e.g. " Crayons are for paper, not the table."
- Holding a young toddler's hand after he hits another child or a pet and helping him to touch gently while saying, "Let's touch nice," rather than, "Don't hit."
- Telling a child she may shout outside, but inside we use our "quiet indoor voices."
- Offering a child a choice of healthy (and tasty) snacks when he asks for candy.
- Carrying an infant to a safer location, and getting her interested in something she can play with.
- Showing a child how to roll, rather than throw, a ball when indoors.
Redirecting works better if it doesn't have to be done all the time. Think about how to reduce the need for redirection.
- Try to eliminate dangers or temptations, sometimes known as attractive nuisances, from the environment.
- Provide lots of acceptable toys, activities, snack foods, etc.
- Be aware of, and eliminate, as much as possible, things like boredom, fatigue, too much stimulation, hunger, etc. that make it harder for a child to be on his best behavior.
- Pick your battles. Don't constantly correct in pursuit of perfection.
Recommended reading: Raising Your Spirited Child, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.