In our last blog post, we mentioned the danger that your child could be in if they don’t come when you call. While the most obvious example is seeing your child run out in the street where they could be hit by a car, there are numerous times when you’ll thank yourself that your young child has learned to listen—and respond—when you call their name and say, “stop,” or “come here.”
- Your child is about to touch the hot stove.
- They’re about to pick up a fragile vase at someone else’s house.
- They’re about to pet a dog, not realizing that that dog is growling and showing its teeth.
- They’re about to reach for a cup of scalding hot coffee that’s too near the edge of the table.
- They’ve walked in on your spouse who is doing a live web interview (like in this viral video).
The possibilities are endless, but the big question is, if you see your child in imminent danger, do you have the confidence that your child will stop and listen to you when you call? Your child’s physical safety could be at stake.
That’s why, in today’s blog post from our day care in Huntington, we are sharing a few brief tips for how to train your child to consistently listen—and come—when you need them to.
1. Make your training sessions into a fun game
Try this: When you’re with another trusted adult, tell your child that you’re going to play a game of “Come here.” Explain, “When you hear someone call your name and say, ‘come here,’ run to that person for a reward.”
Make it fun and celebratory, like a game of Simon Says. Have a supply of small treats that you know your child loves, such as Cheerios or goldfish. Then have the other adult go to the other side of the room, also supplied with treats. Take turns calling the child to come to you, and reward them with praise and a treat each time they make it over to you. They’ll love it!
In this way, even the youngest children will learn the meaning of “come here,” and they’ll know exactly what they’re supposed to do when they hear it.
2. Say, “Come here” in a pleasant voice
Don’t make the mistake of repeating “come here” in increasingly loud tones if your child doesn’t respond right away. If you do that, you’ll simply condition your child to understand, “I don’t have to actually come until mom sounds like she’s really angry.” This is the opposite of what you want.
Keep your voice pleasant and calm and say it once. If your child comes, praise them. If your child delays, walk over to them and lead them gently by the hand to where you were originally. Explain to them that they have lost their treat this time because of their delay, but you are going to try again and you want them to come right away. When you try again, praise them lavishly if they come immediately. After all, in a case of real danger, any delay could be a matter of life and death.
3. Practice everyday consistency
In an emergency, you don’t rise to the occasion; instead, you revert to the level of your training. If it’s second nature to your child to come when you call, then when it really counts, they’ll do exactly that. If, on the other hand, they don’t have any practice, then they might not listen to you when it really matters.