Two of the simplest tools in your parenting toolbox, distraction and redirection work pretty well from the moment a child is old enough to get into mischief. Whether the baby's fussing or the toddler is heading for the china cabinet, a funny noise, an appropriate toy, or simply a hey sweetie! can get her attention long enough for you to redirect her behavior. As your child becomes old enough to fuss about bedtime and toothbrushing, you can use distraction to keep him happy while he's getting ready. Tell a story about his favorite animal brushing his teeth or about a teddy bear who puts on her pajamas and asks for a story. Or simply talk about whatever is her favorite subject de jour while moving her along the process.
As kids get older, there will still be opportunities to distract them from misbehavior and redirect their attention to positive pursuits. It even works on grownups. I often find that my own attention can be distracted from a bad mood and redirected to positive behaviors, as long as I catch myself in time. For me, doing an energetic chore is great when I want to get over anger, anxiety, or excitement; while picking something small and achievable helps me get past the doldrums (even if all I do is sew a hem or pay one bill, or read one page). What are some ways you can use your distraction and redirection powers for good?