Over the years, I have learned that holding hands is so powerful and very important in helping children listen to the adult with whom they are speaking.
So, here are some hands-on ideas:
If you are more than an arm’s length from reaching a child’s hands, the child’s ability to listen greatly diminishes. For example, when you stand across the room from your child and tell them “It’s time to leave.” they act as if you’re speaking another language or there is no possible way they could hear a word you said. So before announcing their exit from your home, the pool, park, or anywhere they might be, walk up to them calmly and simply hold their hand. Then, tell them “It’s time to leave.” and leaving may be a bit easier. There are always going to be moments of disagreement between you and your child and when that happens, you will be holding their hand and escape is much more difficult.
Some sensory input is always a good thing when talking to a child about their behavior or actions. When I need to speak with a child about these things, I like to hold their hands and gently massage their palms while speaking with them. This helps children calm down and focus on what you’re saying. Some children want to pull their hands away from mine and I simply let them know “I’ll let go of your hands when we’re done talking.” Once again, you’ll be within the required arm’s length for great listening. As rules of thumb, I keep the discussion short and sweet, make statements instead of asking questions, and wish them luck before they go back into the world.
When little ones are walking out into the parking lot, garage, or some other dangerous place, PLEASE hold their hands. I cringe every time I see a youngster walking in a parking lot without an adult’s hand in theirs. Before entering these wide open spaces, give your child a choice. “You can hold my hand or I can carry you. What do you want to do?” If they want to argue about this, repeat the choice 3 times. If they still don’t want to commit, then pick up the child. While you’re holding your child, speak into their left ear and let them know how much you love them and want them to be safe. Along about now, they’ll realize the error of their ways and want to hold your hand. If you can be strong, let them know how happy you are about their decision and hopefully the next time this happens they will decide to hold your hand. Don’t put them down because chances are you’ll be right back at the beginning of this whole power struggle.
While all this is going on, please remember your child is learning something new with every experience and it’s our job to help them out as much as possible. So, when these things are happening, just remember it’s all in the hands and holding hands can be a very comforting thing for young children.