Harness the Power of Distraction

What do you do when your baby stiffens like a board when you need to put him in the stroller? Or screams and writhes in his high chair because that bright shiny toy, otherwise known as the meat cleaver, is maddeningly out of reach? Of all the wondrous qualities possessed by the typical infant, there are times when the one you’ll be most grateful for is his spotty short-term memory. By honing the fine art of distraction there will be many occasions when you’ll be able to spare his tears- and your ears. Try the following techniques. The more of them you use at the same time, the higher your success rate is likely to be.

  •  Turn on some music. Few kids can resist it. Get him clapping his hands and “singing” along. Meanwhile, the cleaver disappears into a drawer or his bottom gets gently settled into the stroller.
  • Feed him. You don’t want to play this hand too often, but on a good day you can short- circuit a major meltdown with the kindly offer of a rice cake.
  • Relocate him. Once your baby is taken out of his high chair and placed on his bedroom floor with his Pooh bear and bunny blocks, the cleaver quickly fades from memory.
  • Act excited. Smile, open your eyes wide, point and say, “Oh! Look! A … a … Birdie! Ooooo! See the birdie?” While he’s searching the sky you guide him into the stroller. Keep up the patter: “Oh, such a nice birdie! Tweet tweet it says,” while you strap him in.
  • Wait two minutes. Instead of wrestling over a diaper change, let her spend some time looking at a book or a rattle, or singing a song. Give it about 120 seconds and most likely she’ll forget that she’s in the middle of a diaper strike. Then, without announcing it, simply get to work on her bottom.

These techniques are not foolproof. If they work this time, they won’t necessarily work the next. And eventually, as your children grow, you will be astounded by their memory. Instead of distracting them you will have to move on to the more complex arts of parental control, namely: bribery, blackmail and when all else fails, “because I said so.”