‘S’ got in touch because she wanted some playful solutions for a toddler that doesn’t want his nails clipped.
So first schedule a time when you are at home, and have lots of time to play without your to-do list getting in the way. Get out the nail clippers, and tell your child you need to clip their nails, but with no expectation of getting it done quickly. Instead go for the giggles.
Ask your child if you can clip their nails, and then the ‘runaway clippers’ start clipping your nails instead. Tell the clippers, ”hey, what are you doing? I need you to cut (insert child’s name)’s nails not mine! Repeat as long as the giggles are flowing.
Have the clippers, ‘clip’ your ears, hair, toes, any body part if it gets your child laughing. If he finds the play really fun you can extend it into more and more outlandish ways, by having the clippers ‘clip’ door handles, items of clothing, or anything really. Keep acting more and more playfully frustrated that you just can’t seem to get the clippers to behave right.
Then you might want to ask your toddler, if they’d like a favourite toy to do the clipping. After lots of giggles they may have released any tension and be more likely to co-operate.
You can play similar games like this for toothbrushing, hairbrushing or face cleaning.
Sometimes it’s possible that children project bigger fears on something small and everyday like nail clipping or tooth brushing. If laughter isn’t enough and there is a deeper, underlying fear there that’s stopping your child from feeling safe in the situation, you may also need to staylisten to some of the feelings.
I know when I first introduced my daughter to teeth-cleaning, she would start crying when she saw the toothbrush. I didn’t rush in and clean her teeth against her will, and also I didn’t distract her, and try to make light of her feelings.
Instead I gave her the space, to express her feelings. I would show her the toothbrush. I would tell her I needed to clean her teeth and gradually move it closer to her mouth, but I wouldn’t actually clean them. I would listen to whatever feelings she had, gradually helping her feel safer, until she had finished crying. Then when she was ready, she was totally happy and at ease with me cleaning her teeth. After that teeth-cleaning was much easier, as she didn’t have any underlying feelings behind it now. Sometimes if she needs a bit of extra connection we’ll have a few giggles, and now that’s enough.
I hope this is helpful, and let me know how it goes!
Would you like a giggle parenting solution for your family challenge? Leave me a comment or sendme a pm via facebook
If you’d like an in-depth look at how laughter can solve behavioural challenges, then check out Playful Parenting by Dr. Lawrence J. Cohen.