(This article was featured in Elephant Journal!  Click here to read the published version!

Call it whatever you like; speak, chat, converse, babble, blather, yak or gab, the act of simply talking to our kids is highly underrated.  Especially, when we are around young children who haven’t developed language skills yet.

If you are a parent of a child anywhere from age 1-3 then you’ve probably dealt with the raggedy Anne doll body flop, as well as the world has come to an end, all out crying fit on at least a semi-regular basis.

Now, take a moment and imagine a day where there are no melt downs or tantrums, only smooth transitions from one activity to the next, along with rainbows butterfly’s and maybe even a unicorn! Well, that might be pushing it but it truly is possible to have breakdown free days.

Over my 10 years of nannying I discovered that the simple act of talking, chatting and gabbing away plays a big part in allowing transitions to run smoothly.  The more I talked the less resistance I got.

I’ve shared this simple secret with many parents and clients. The effortless nature of this technique makes parents watch in amazement as they see the magic of simply talking more unfold into calm, easy-going kids.

It works like this…

1.  Outline the happenings of the day.  “Bobby, after breakfast we are going to take your brother to school and then go to the museum…etc”

2.  Engage by asking questions“Bobby what are we going to do after breakfast?”

3.  Repeat, repeat, repeat!

So, how does this help?  Why does it work?

Well, when we actively engage our kiddos in conversations such as this, we are first calming their anxiety about what is happening throughout the day.  Think about it, a lot of things they experience throughout the day are completely new to them.  As adults, if someone took us to a place we were unfamiliar with and didn’t tell us where we were going or what we were doing we would probably get all raggedy Anne doll on them as well.

Engaging them in conversation by asking questions gets their little brains working.  It’s a great activity in using their memory as well as building sequencing skills.

By repeating this process throughout the day it helps the daily routine really sink in.  They begin to anticipate what is coming next, things become less abrupt and they ease into the flow of the day.

Overall, this process builds trust and allows our little ones to feel as if they are truly a part of things. Instead of feeling like everything around them is happening to them, they begin to feel their self-worth and see their value in this world.

Big picture, this creates a healthy foundation of open communication and strong family bonds for years to come.

Helpful Tip:

If there is a part of the day that is especially difficult for your little one, like leaving the park or getting into the car try using the 3 steps above on full blast beforehand.  See what happens…Who knows you might get that unicorn after-all! Or at least a tantrum free day and that’s pretty darn good in my book.

How did this technique work for you?  Unicorn or no unicorn share your experiences below!



  1. thanks for writing this

  2. OMG amazing tip! I’m going to use this with my niece.

  3. Leanna, really interesting stuff!

  4. Awesome Leanna! I think this is so true. In the age of technology we have to remember human to human communication, up close and personal, real time, in person. I love that about you. You are authentic and real!

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