Before having kids I was an avid Super Nanny fan. Now that I have 3 children of my own, I find that what she may suggest to a family may not always work for everyone and I can hardly stand to take advice from someone who is not themselves a parent. To say the least, I don’t bother watching these days.
There is one tip though that seems to be weaved into every episode (or at least the ones I’ve caught). When talking to your child, get down at eye level with them. Eye contact is super important in delivering a message and seeing that it is received. Too often parents forget to do this and wonder why their child hasn’t done what was asked of them. I was also advised by a preschool teacher that a physical touch such as a hand on a shoulder, in addition to eye contact is important for boys. I’m not sure of the science behind it, but from my own experience in when I remember to use my “parenting tools” it is definitely effective. The trick really is practicing the technique often enough that it just becomes habit. We’re still working on it and my oldest is 6!
What is funny is my children even know that fostering eye contact is a great way to get their message delivered. There are times I’m busy typing away at the computer and my daughter, Amberly, is hungry for an after school snack. I’ll tell her to give me 5 minutes to wrap up and she’s often times come into the office to remind me that she’s hungry. She taps me on the shoulder, (the automatic response is to stop and look at the person) and then she signs EAT while reminding me that she is hungry. I suppose from signing with my kids and facilitating that eye contact while communicating a non verbal language, it taught them inherently to get eye contact to deliver important messages. It makes me really happy when I see this result instead of a tantrum about “Mom, you forgot you were going to get me a snack!” (which I won’t lie, has sometimes been the case).
Obviously, it is necessary to have eye contact to effectively introduce a sign to your child. Some situations that present themselves may make it difficult to retrieve you toddler’s attention. One such example is visiting a WATER FOUNTAIN. Most toddlers are in awe of water fountains and can’t take their eyes off it. Ideally you’d want to sign WATER FOUNTAIN before you get anywhere near it, before they are totally mesmerized by it. Having signed it a few times before going to visit a water fountain though can curiously prompt them to then look at you as you say it while standing at the water fountain and they then will look to you to check out the sign they recall you demonstrated just a few minutes before. I’ve used this technique several times and more often than not it has worked. I encourage you to make a trip to a nearby water fountain and practice this technique. Luckily, Amberly agreed to let me take this video of her demonstrating the sign. Check back and let me know how it went!