You know the scene. You are cooking dinner, the phone is ringing, the kids are hungry, and all you hear is constant bickering and the all too frequent, “Stop touching me!” What do you do?
You could pull yourself away from the stove every 30 seconds to tell them to knock it off and pray that the pot doesn’t boil over. You could ignore them and hope they don’t hurt one another or your great-grandmother’s vase.
Or you could take just one brief moment to tell them to stop, drop and think (not to be confused with the fireman’s mantra of stop, drop and roll – however, if you don’t do something, you just might end up with a fire on your hands).
“Stop, drop and think” is a very simple technique.
- First, go to where your children are and firmly say, “STOP.”
- Once you have their attention, tell them to sit wherever they are (it would be wise to separate them if one child is actually sitting on top of another).
- You then inform them that they must sit where they are in silence until they can think of something to do independently that can occupy them until dinner.
- Once they have thought of an activity, they may get up and go do it.
- Whoever selects an activity first has claim to it and the one who procrastinated in their decision must sit down until they think of something else to do. (You may need to give very young children two or three ideas to choose from when using this technique with them.)
Unstructured time, hungry bellies and an odd combination of pent up energy and fatigue from a busy day can often lead to pre-dinner havoc. Try this technique and you and your family might just re-discover what a great cook you really are.