By definition in the realm of therapy, the word pairing means: “the process of building or maintaining rapport with a child”
It is always the first & most important step therapists take, even before assessment. Pairing is also continuously used throughout all sessions. When it comes to parenting, this process can also be beneficial for parents to get through the less preferred parts of the day.
Pairing in the world of parenting means associating something not-so-fun with something fun! Sounds interesting even for adults right? Check out the video below for an example of pairing a not-so-fun trip up the stairs with a fun piano game.
The ultimate goals of the magicians behind this idea is to see more people go up the stairs. They used the pairing strategy pretty successfully! If only all trips up the stairs were like that!
As a parent of toddlers who find most things that do not include screens not-so-fun, we can use the pairing strategy on a daily basis. Here’s how:
PLAY!Make the un-fun activity a game. Challenge your child to put all of the red cars together before putting them back in the toy bin. Pretend the red cars are the fastest in the race to the bin! Count along as he puts one car after the other away
Sing!Some songs are a great way to motivate a child to do anything. Think of the brushing teeth song which is a great alternative to you constantly reminding them to “brush the top and brush the bottom”. There are plenty of songs that children would enjoy ,especially if a parent is singing along.
Change the scenery:One effective examples of this was the mommy who took nail trimming ( not-fun-at-all) outdoors! Her little one enjoyed sitting on their balcony very often but didn’t get the chance to do so unless accompanied by an adult. The not-so-fun nail trimming activity was a big fuss until mommy started doing that outdoors. You see what she did there? Not-so-fun + fun outdoors = smooth trim!
Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Marry Poppins said it best with the famous “ a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”. On a similar note, she also used games for cleaning up! I strongly believe Mary Poppins was a behavior analyst by training.