Expert Parenting Advice
Practical parenting tips and advice from experts around the world

How to get your kid out of the spa pool

Why sometimes the best solution to a problem is to just change the environment, instead of trying to convince your children to listen to you.

Yesterday evening, I took my 4 year old daughter for a swim in the spa pool.

She took her floaty, and practiced all of her swim lesson moves. She was having a great time.

But then, I wanted to leave because dinner was ready.

She refused.

The more I tried to convince her, the less she seemed to want to come with me. I begged ("please, just come and I'll dry you off"), bribed ("we can have cake for dessert tonight"), and threatened ("if you don't come now, we are not coming swimming again").

Nothing worked.

Finally, I just picked her up and carried her home.

That worked.

She wasn't happy, but she soon accepted it, and when I put her down she was again playing and laughing.

Something that I learned from speaking to Dr Heather Wittenberg is that young children are often not capable of understanding everything we expect them to understand.

Dr Heather Wittenberg is a practicing psychologist, specializing in the development of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, and is a nationally known parenting writer, speaker, television guest expert, and social media presence.

When I spoke to her for our book "How To Get Kids To Listen", I asked her for advice to help keep my children out of the kitchen. I asked if there is anything I can do to get my kids to listen to me when I tell them to stay out of the kitchen.

Here's what Dr Heather said:

I learned a lot about that from preschool teachers that I've interacted with over the years, and what preschool teachers understand is the combination of what the children are capable of understanding and modifying the environment accordingly.

So, is it time to remove the baby gates yet?

Maybe, but maybe not. If you're using your best explanations and best guidance. "Guys, when I'm cooking, it's dangerous for you to be in here. You need to be out in the living room," and it is not working, then they're perhaps too young to hold onto that.

Dr Heather Wittenberg

Sometimes, the best solution to a problem is to just change the environment, instead of trying to convince your children to listen to you.

Instead of yelling at your kids to stay out of the kitchen, see if you can install a baby gate.

Instead of threatening your kids to get out of the pool, just pick them up and take them out.

In our interview with Dr Heather, she shared more ways that you can understand what your child is developmentally capable of doing and understanding.

She also shared why you need to be knowledgeable about what you can expect from your child at their current age.

You can find the full interview with Dr Heather Wittenberg - Dr Heather Wittenberg: How to understand your child, using the “5 personalities of young children” - here.