One of our most difficult endeavors as parents has been to get the kids to turn their heads the appropriate direction for things like face washing, shampoo rinsing or hair brushing.
“Look in front of you!”
“Let me see your face!”
“Let me wash your face, please.”
We’ve said all of these useless lines, along with several others, trying to get our children to cooperate with whatever operation we were doing – until we finally figured out a more empowering way to get our kids’ attention.
Children do not have the experience yet to understand what these things mean. They learn through doing what it is that we want them to do. Telling a child to look in front of them is completely arbitrary to them. Wherever they look IS in front of them, so they must be complying! If we want a child to do what we are asking, we need to give them clear directives that allow them to comply.
Look at my nose!
Telling a child what they should be looking at to face the direction you need is much more clear for them, than an arbitrary “let me see your face.” Look at my nose is a great tool for getting a child to look up into your face so that you can see his face clearly. Other clear directives are:
Look at the ceiling!
Look at that picture!
Look at the window!
Look at the door!
For my older children, knowing where to look is enough. I usually have to remind them at least once – and sometimes several times – but they are able to maintain focus for several minutes at a time. When they are younger, I tell them where to look and then lead them to keep their attention there by asking several questions.
What is the picture of?
What color is the door?
Can you see any cars out the window?
Look at my nose! Where is my nose? Oh! Where are my eyebrows?
Keeping things light and upbeat while giving clear directives helps us to do those mundane daily tasks without fighting with our kids.