Walking with Kids Without Chasing or Nagging

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Remember calling out, "olly olly oxen free" while playing hide and seek? That same confident, friendly tone works well when giving kids directions. I use it while walking down the sidewalk with 5 kids in tow. It's a trick I learned in a large daycare center but it works great with even just one kiddo.

Instead of saying, "keep up" or "stay together" a million times, I say:

"Wait at the next tree!"

They race off and hop to a stop at the next tree. I toss out a, "fantastic waiting." Then give the next direction:

"Wait at the fire hydrant!"

They run and wait.  ...And when they don't, I go from an olly olly oxen free tone of voice to a lifeguard tone of voice - firm, succinct and usually starting with their name.  

Have you found that tone of voice plays a huge role in effectively managing kids? When we hit just the right tone kids seem to respond instantly. And when our tone is off it can start an ugly chain reaction. I know I have heard myself use pleading or demanding tones that didn't garner respect or inspire confidence. I'll post more entries on tone of voice in coming weeks. 

This olly olly oxen free tone of voice comes in handy other times too.  Try calling upstairs: "time to get ready for school" or announcing in the backyard:"let's wash up for lunch". This kind of clear, warm, attention getting tone works especially well when children know exactly what to do when you give the call. Before sending the kiddos down the sidewalk to the next tree we practiced starting and stopping at various locations, standing still until I arrived, running without pushing or colliding and so on. I like red light green light as a pre-practice tool to build this skill. 

Now, we all know that there are times when for safety reasons all tones of voice are silenced and we walk right up next to a little one, scoop his hand and stay side by side until reaching the van. But if you've got an open sidewalk in front of you and kids who are ready to listen and raring to run try shouting out - in your best 8 year old, olly olly oxen free tone of voice - "wait at the next tree!" 

Then let us know how it goes!