I’m not kidding–it happened to me!
Every parent screams those words hoping to stop a child in their tracks and prevent them from getting hurt.
That’s exactly what all parents are supposed to do, stop their children from getting hurt when danger is just ahead. However, there’s a problem with just screaming stop or danger, and most parents don’t realize it until it’s almost too late. That’s what happened to me. I had to watch as my 3-year-old was almost killed because I didn’t think about how he would react to me screaming, stop—danger!
Who knows why children stop listening. Maybe they simply choose to ignore you or maybe they’re at a stage in their development where they’re more interested in a power struggle than listening. Either one of those scenarios could cause you to have to watch as your child walks directly into danger.
Screaming DANGER—DANGER doesn’t tell your child what you want her to do instead of what she’s doing, and it doesn’t do it in less than 1.5 seconds. If you try to explain what she should be doing instead, during this moment of danger, you could literally watch as she gets hurt or worse.
So what can a parent do?
Parents can use a word that will stop a preschooler in her tracks, share all the information about what you want her to do instead, AND it’s all done in 1.5 seconds.
What’s the word? The word is FREEZE!
The word FREEZE works ONLY if it’s saved for a situation where real danger is seconds away, like it was with my son. He stepped right in front of a car to grab a ball. By saying FREEZE he stayed where he was just long enough for me to literally grab him and pull him back up onto the sidewalk.
Saying FREEZE reduces the possibility of ignoring you, BUT only if you teach your children the freeze game and then NEVER play the game again, unless needed!
Here’s what you do.
Take your children outside one afternoon and tell them you want to play a fun game with them. Don’t say what the purpose of the game is or you may scare them or cause them to ignore you.
The FREEZE game is the same game you played as a child, with one part removed. In this “save your life” version of the game a parent is the one who runs around trying to freeze the children. If your preschooler wants to unfreeze a sibling, like the real game, tell him this is a different type of FREEZE game, one where only parents can freeze and unfreeze children.
Play several rounds until you’re sure they’ve learned the game well, and then go back inside and don’t mention anything else about the game.
Over the next couple of days randomly yell out FREEZE a couple times, to make sure your children do indeed freeze for about 3 seconds or less. If they don’t, take them out and teach them again and again, until they understand.
Then tell them, “Mommy and Daddy will never be playing the FREEZE game—as a fun game again.
Say, “You’re never allowed to ignore that word!” When you hear FREEZE, it means Mommy or Daddy’s eyes see something your eyes don’t see—and you’re in danger. You must FREEZE your body in whatever position you’re in when you hear that word, and stay frozen until Mommy or Daddy unfreezes you!
Notice how I explained all of this by using very basic words. Parents need to remember to scale down their language at important times like this, so a child can really understand. Also, make sure to yell out FREEZE every once and a while to make sure they still remember what to do.
My 3 yr old is now 24 and very much alive—thanks to the word FREEZE!
Sharon Silver is the founder and director of Proactive Parenting. For more solutions like this, go to http://www.proactiveparenting.net/.