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As a pediatrician and mother – and all those other roles that we play in life – I spend most of my waking hours in the company of children, and they are amazing little beings! At times delightful, sweet and just plain funny, and, at other times, challenging and nerve wracking. My role entails being able to relate to them in all states though so I’ve accumulated many tips that I share with all parents. I’ve tried them all, after all, I’ve been at this for 30-some years now. But the one tip that has remained consistent and unfailing is what I have coined as “the 3 YESes.” Is there such a word?  Regardless, here is how it goes.

You are trying to get something done – like me during a check up, or you’re trying to have a conversation with someone – and the kids just won’t cooperate. They fidget, they squirm, or they keep interrupting. Or even worse, your sulky pre-teen completely ignores you after several attempts to get them to pick up their shoes.

I always start by trying to figure out what it is that the child wants. That golden rule again. Then I ask the child a question that I know they will respond “yes” to. For example:

1. You want to go home right now?

2. You want your mom to take you to the park?

3. You don’t want to get a shot?

4. You wish that I would stop bugging you about those shoes?

As a kid, would you say “yes” to these questions? Of course! But just because I am asking, it doesn’t mean that I will grant their wishes but…it is enough to settle the child down and give you a few minutes to move on with your task. Now, eventually you do have to grant your child one of those wishes, but it will most likely be easier to do after the storm has passed.

This technique settles any fussy kid, grumpy teen or, for that matter, a reluctant adult. Try it by first figuring out what is in it for the other person. This technique is well recognized in many arenas of life such as business, politics and pediatrics. Make it your own and you’ll see your relationship improve, no matter who is on the receiving end.

Take care and enjoy –

Dr. de Freitas

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