TalkBack To Vicki Jardine

A TalkBack on Parenting Issues

Cause and Effect January 16, 2010

Cause and Effect....or Choices and Consequences

Have you ever wondered why your child seems better behaved for one person than they are for another?

Or why does your child conform to expectations at school much better than he/she does at home for you?

It happens all the time, mom can’t get her child to take a nap, but every day at pre-school the teacher manages to get 20 small children to lie down at the same time.  Is it a phenomenon?  Or can it be explained?

I believe it can be quite simply explained in 2 words:  Cause and Effect.

Child-Care professionals understand the need to introduce the concept of ‘consequences’ to very young children.  Once a child understands that there are consequences to the choices they make, most of the time they will choose well.  So for example when it comes to nap-time, the children know that if they lie down for a little while, they will then get to play with something special, or they will have a treat and their teacher will be really happy with them….the payoffs to them are numerous and irrefutable.  They will see that for those children who chose not to nap, they will miss out.  Most children clearly understand ‘cause and effect’ when the adults in their life have clearly linked the consequences of their choices to the outcomes that they receive.

No matter how irrational your child seems, they truly do understand the language of Cause and Effect. 

Humans, no matter how young simply do not do things for which there is no evident payoff.  It will make daily life a lot easier for you as a parent, if you learn to talk to your child in terms of choices and consequences.  If you make it clear what will happen if they do one thing and what will happen if they do another, then they will usually choose the outcome that they want and will surprise you by the degree of commitment they can show to that outcome.

If your child does not lie down and take a nap when you know they need to, then that can be explained by the fact that your child doesn’t see what the payoff is. 

When it comes to payoff, there really does need to be some emotional payoff as well.  Going back to the pre-school example, you will notice that the outcome for napping was not just a treat or something special.  It also includes that the teacher is very happy with them.  The teacher will smile a lot at each child, pat them lovingly on the back, shoulder or head and will instinctively make sure each child knows they made a good choice…and that people are proud of them.  The teacher may boast about them to other adults and tell their mom and dad how wonderful they are and how they always nap well like it is some really big achievement.

I know this because I know the payoff for the teacher is that more of the children will nap well and so the day will be a better one.  Cause and Effect!

So no matter how old your child is, make sure you are arranging your child’s world so that it is clearly a series of choices each with different outcomes and that you are helping your child see what the payoff is to them, in language they will understand.  When they make a poor choice and the ‘effect’ is not what the child wants, let them learn from that.  Don’t save them all the time.  Let your child forego a nap or whatever but then make sure that they see that when they don’t nap, they are tired and cranky and that playing isn’t as much fun for the rest of the day.  Help them see that now, because they didn’t nap, they cannot go to the park or stay up and watch their show on television.  Let them see that they chose that and that next time they might want to make the other choice.  Show them what the ‘effect’ would have looked like had they made the other choice.  That they would now be able to stay up, that they would not be feeling so out of sorts with everyone and everything if they had had that nap.

Then next time when they have to choose to nap or not, help them remember the way they felt when they made the choice not to nap last time.  Help them connect the choice they have to make right now, with the ‘effects’ they have suffered in the past.  Remember that they need you to always connect the dots for them.

This applies to almost all the things that fill up your child’s day…not just to napping. 

I am sure you have stories about times your child had a lesson in ‘cause and effect’, or you have some situations you would like some help bringing into a ‘cause and effect’ understanding for your child.  If you want to share some of your ideas, stories or want some suggestions about how to word some of the choices positively, then please feel free to leave a comment on this blog post and I will answer you and I am sure some other parents will also bring their experiences to light.  Sharing what we know works for the sake of our children, in this very quickly changing world.  That’s what modern parenting is all about.

So talkback with me on the subject of ‘cause and effect’.  I want to hear what you have to say.

Warmest Wishes,

Vicki Jardine


Unhappy Child, Unhappy Family January 9, 2009

Here is a scenario that is not uncommon:

Our 6 year old has been talking back to us and having a ‘lot’ of attitude.  He simply refuses to do what he is asked and thinks it’s funny when we correct him.  He takes things he isn’t supposed to take and doesn’t care about the consequences.  He seems to be ‘unreachable’ in that nothing we say or do makes any difference to him.  dreamstime_angryboy

We have tried reward charts and taking away his most prized possessions or TV time. 


We have been to a kinesiologist to work on helping him see how his behavior makes everyone around him feel as well as trying to show him how his behavior is making him feel. 

Still nothing! 

He is now behaving like this at school too and life has turned into a long stream of his crying, tantrums, throwing things, throwing himself on the floor and refusing to budge.  Everything is a ‘mission’ and nothing seems to work. 

What’s Up With That?  What would you do?

TalkBack to me!




‘Tis the Season to be Jolly December 7, 2008

dreamstime_69553473Fa la la la laaaaaa    
La la la laaa!

So here’s an idea to make the season even more memorable for your child. Select a favourite Christmas Carol of yours….think back to when you were a little child. Which ones were your favorites? I loved Silent Night for a couple of years running and then when I turned 9 years old I fell in love with ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ (parhump a pump pum…me and my drum). Just make sure it’s one that you love, because you are going to sing it and hear it over and over again this Christmas.

Now sing it to your child and sing it with your child. Make it a celebration. Do sign language with it. Make it up if you don’t know authentic sign language (but you could find out what the signing is for your particular song).

Then each time you sing it the song together, have a big smile and a hug at the end if possible. Of course, if you are driving in the car or something like that then a hug won’t do, so clap or snap or something to signify between you and your child that you are both feeling really ‘happy’.
The idea here is to ‘anchor’ the good feeling you both get when you are singing that song. By ‘anchor’ I mean make a definite link in your mind and especially in your child’s mind between the happy feeling, and the song.

dreamstime_68615091It’s even a good idea with younger children to give them the vocabulary to describe their feeling of joy or happiness.

Young children really only know if a feeling is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and need they need your help to learn words that they can use to express their feelings.

An example of this is when my daughter was 3 or 4 years old she used to say her tummy hurts when she was actually just hungry. She knew the difference between the feelings of hunger and the need to use the bathroom, but she didn’t know how to express it to me. She only knew one word for the two sensations.
It’s the same thing with happiness, joy, contentment and pleasure. We have to give our little ones the words they need to express themselves.

So sing the Christmas Carol and then anchor the good feeling by using a big smile and a hug, snap or clap. Repeat this over and over always remembering to anchor the good feeling to the song and sometimes to describe the feeling of happiness, pleasure and joy for your child.

Now why am I suggesting you do this?

Well even though ‘tis the season to be jolly, it is also the season where the routines get out of sync and there are ‘more things to do’ than normal. I mean, it isn’t called the Silly Season for nothing! Sometimes it can be very unsettling for children, even older children.

You may notice your child’s behaviours escalating more often and you may find your child testing the boundaries just to see if they are still there. And opportunities for ‘joy’ and ‘peace’ seem to go out the window sometimes.

dreamstime_5800111So if you have ‘anchored’ the joyful feelings associated with the Christmas Carol, then when you notice things escalating with your child, when you notice their mood changing and the atmosphere in the home or the car declining, all you have to do is start singing the song.

This lifts your child’s spirits and changes the emotional direction he/she was going in. You can instantly distract your child from their feelings of insecurity this way by focusing their attention on something you have previously established as ‘happy’.

Not only are you changing the mood of your child, but you are establishing a very positive ‘shared experience’. The value of ‘positive shared experiences’ is immeasurable as your child matures.

You know even if your child is older, you can do this. As children get into teenage years you will want to have established as many ‘positive shared experiences’ as you can. Your child will need to know more than ever that the bond between you and them is intact and strong.


And the beauty of this little technique is that it costs you NO TIME to implement. You can sing your carol as you put dinner on the table, as you do laundry, as you drive the kids to school, or whenever and wherever you choose.


‘Tis the season to be jolly!!!

So Talk back to me!

Let me know what carols you decided to use.  Let me know if you have any other ideas for making the season jollier for your children and ways to give them the attention and security they deserve without adding drastically to your long list of things to do.

Leave a comment for other moms to see and have your say!

Bye for now

Vicki Jardine