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  1. #1
    Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus UlrikeDG's Avatar
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    Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    Years ago, on the old ParentsPlace.com board, Monika told me about the "sandwich" technique. It's where you sandwich every criticism between two positive statements. For example, "You've got the straps nice and tight. Looks like the harness tie is a bit too low, though. Let's move that up to armpit level. It's great that you're working so hard to keep your child safe!" It's very effective, and I should probably use it more often.

    One technique that I do use often is to acknowledge how easy it is to make some mistakes. If it's something I've screwed up before, I admit it. There's nothing so disarming as an expert saying, "Yeah, I did the same thing! That's actually what inspired me to become a tech--knowing that I read the instructions and did my best, and it still wasn't right." If it's an error I see frequently, I tell the parent so. If 95% of kids are improperly restrained, no parent should feel like they're being singled out as a bad parent for unintentional misuse!

    Does anyone have any other good techniques? Maybe something you learned outside the CPS world or something your instructor taught you in your tech class? Non-techs are welcome to participate! This is an area that doesn't come naturally to most of us, and I don't think it's discussed often enough.
    Ulrike, mom to:
    Roman (3/98), Evalina (3/00), Nadia (3/03), and Kira (11/07)


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  3. #2
    CPS Technician CPS_obsessed_EMT's Avatar
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    I was taught the sandwich technique in my CPS class. I use it all the time, and even in other situations as well!

    I also use the part about saying how common it is or how easy it is to make that mistake.

    One technique I also use, is talking to the children to get through to the parents (with an older child of course).

    Like "See, doesn't this booster make it so much easier to see out the window? And see how the seatbelt now lies across your hip bones and shoulder instead of over your tummy and neck? Don't you feel sooo much better in this booster seat knowing you are safer?"
    Or
    "I bet you feel so much better when mommy and daddy are buckled up and you know that everyone in the car is as safe as you are"
    or
    "Accidents can happen even if we are only driving a few blocks, so it's very important to always buckle up even for short trips"


    You get the idea. I feel so much more at ease talking to the parents "through" the child than looking the parents in the eyes and giving them lectures.





  4. #3
    Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus Defrost's Avatar
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    Assume Positive Intent.

    When you treat people as if they've made the best choices they can, that's how they respond. When people feel understood, they listen.
    Debbie, CPST-I
    driving my '07 Mazda5 with
    Thomas (18) * Sam (17) * Patrick (15) * Macha (13)
    Safely secured with seat belts - everyone, every ride!

  5. #4
    CPS Technician CRS's Avatar
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    That's exactly what I do. Though I don't do seat check events that often, I work with the police at "check stops" (sorry don't know what you call them there) so it's FAR from voluntary for them to be there. I always approach them with a smile and introduce myself, say who I am (and often shake their hand) and what I'm doing here and that I'm there to help them. I always comment "oh yes don't worry you're not the only one!" or "yes a lot of people have no idea, there's not a lot of information out there is there?!" or, "yes I did the same thing with my son!". A few times when I've had people continue to rear-face their kids past 6 months (don't ask, LOL) I say "that's great you've kept him/her rear-facing!!" I throw in as many compliments and general chatter as I can in between the "negatives". It always helps defuse difficult situations, puts us both on the same "level" and get on a friendly basis with them
    Bonnie, Mum to a (38lb) 3 year old rear-facing in a Brio Zento (Black)
    and a (40lb) 4 1/2 year old in a Booster in New Zealand.

  6. #5
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    I'm not a tech, so my opinion doesn't hold as much water, but I'll share anyway . When dealing with family and close friends, I will share information and explain the benefits of ERF and keeping the kids harnessed until they're ready for a booster. Honestly, most of my family, friends and co-workers know I'm a car seat nut and frequently ask my advice, which makes it a lot easier.

    Since I am not a tech, I don't feel comfortable confronting strangers about their car seat usage. It's hard, but I've realized that I can't save the world, I can only be responsible for my own kids and those that I transport. I have, on a few occassions, seen such gross misuse that I can't help but say something, but I usually try to find a way to start a conversation with the person that has nothing to do with car seats. The majority of these people are just ignorant and simply don't know any better. "Attacking" them is never going to win a favorable response. For example, I saw a woman in Walmart a couple of weeks ago who had a child in an infant bucket, a really crappy, old 3-point harness bucket and this little girl was literally busting out of it. She was way too tall for it and she was just jammed in there. The mother and I were digging though the same rack of clothes, which conveniently happened to be directly in front of the car seats. We kept bumping into each other and I commented on how cute her daughter was and asked how old she was. Then I casually pointed out the pink Scenera to her and told her that I used to have the seat, explained that it was a great value with high RF limits and that IF she was in the market for a new seat, it would be a great choice. She said that she was fine with the seat that she had and I told her that her daughter was "a bit too big" for the seat and would be much safer if she moved her to a convertible with a 5 point harness. She seemed surprised and asked how to tell if they've outgrown the seat. I showed her, using her child as an example, and she said she'd think about it. We said good-bye and I left it at that. I saw her in line about 20 minutes later and she had the pink Scenera in her cart. She thanked me and said she couldn't believe the seat was only $44.

    Now my oldest daughter is a differet story. She's obsessed with car seat safety and notices and points out misuse before I can stop her. We've actually had to tell her to stop because she comes across as a bit bratty and a 5 year old know it all. It's sad that a 5 year old knows more about car seats that a lot of adults . I will say, though, that Kaylie speaking up to people about their car seats has opened opportunities for me to say something in a more positive way.

    I will admit to frequent trips to BRU with my little sidekick because she's always more than happy spend an hour in the car seat and stroller section and get all excited and say "that's my seat, that's Teagan's seat", "we had that stroller, I hated it", "ooh, there's the Volo", etc. She tends to draw some attention to us and people almost always come over and ask about the seats or the strollers.
    Amy
    Mommy to Kaylie (12/15/02), Teagan (12/29/05) and Sean (12/8/09)

  7. #6
    Car-Seat.Org Zealot skaterbabs's Avatar
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    Always comment on how cute the kid is. Find a specific feature, and compliment it. "She has the most beautiful curls!" or "Wow, those eyes are GORGEOUS!"

    If it's a family, approach one of the older kids first. "How old are you? Seven? Wow, I bet you are a big help to mom and dad! I love your green shirt, that's my favorite color."

    You don't want to scare people right off the bat.
    Rebekah Branch, CPST from May 2005 until June 2011
    Mom to CJ (7/96, seatbelt), Gregory (4/98, seatbelt), & Joyjoy (10/03, misc. booster seats)
    "That which you create in beauty and goodness and truth lives on."
    - Denis Waitley

  8. #7
    Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus Jeanum's Avatar
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    I love the sandwich approach. A cardinal recommendation in tech class was to always be complimentary to the parents, "what a cute baby," "thanks for coming to our seat check event so we could meet your adorable family," etc. and stifle any urge to say anything that could be perceived as overly critical/insulting which could put the parent on the defensive. Keep those complimentary comments handy for those times when you're struggling to find the positive in a seat that is poorly installed/misused/not ideally appropriate for the little one. Coming to a seat check event or posting questions here on the forum are signs that the parent already cares about the child's well being in the car and wants to be reassured and encouraged about doing it properly. The goal of the whole interaction is to keep the parent receptive to the information and to improve their child's safety in the car, not to send them off in a huff feeling like they were bashed and ridiculed.
    Last edited by Jeanum; 01-11-2008 at 02:35 PM.
    Regards,
    Jean

    DD1 Age 16, 66" Driver's Ed
    DD2 Age 12, 64" 5 steps

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  9. #8
    Admin - CPST Instructor Kecia's Avatar
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    The worse the situation - the harder you have to work to keep parents from feeling guilty or defensive.

    I always smile, introduce myself, shake hands with the parent(s), greet the child and immediately compliment something. It's hard sometimes when everything you see is wrong but you only have a moment to make a connection and gain their trust so you have to find something nice to say. Sometimes the best I can do is praise them for taking the time to come to a check or compliment them on a beautiful child.

    The one thing that I tend to do differently than my peers is that I only document the flaws that I see when the child arrives, I don't point them out to the parent right then and there. I hate to start off by telling parents what's wrong with the way the child or seat is right then and there. I prefer to simply observe and make mental notes about what they need to be taught. After they've left, when I'm completeing the paperwork, then I document how the child and/or seat arrived.

    We take the kids and seats out, weigh the kids, take the info off the seats and start the education process making any and all necessary changes.

    Then we show them the correct way. I never say "you had the straps too loose before". I only show them how the harness should fit the child. I go out of my way NOT to point out their mistakes. Once they learn proper usage they can figure out what they've been doing wrong all on their own. If they happen to mention what they'd been doing wrong, I always reassure them that they're not alone and that I made plenty of mistakes with my first child too.

    Great thread! I look forward to seeing all the responses!

    Kecia

  10. #9
    CPS Technician amyg530's Avatar
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    i have found that with my current group of mommy friends that gradually teaching them is doing the trick, instead of just dumping a truckload of info on them i have been just giving them small bits of info everytime the subject comes up, that way they're not overwhelmed with it. also telling them that you just want to be sure "that sweet little baby is safe" helps, thats what i told my friend this morning when i fixed the chest clip on her snugride, i gently pushed it up higher and told her that i would hate to see anything happen to A and explained that if its to low he could be ejected from the seat and we wouldnt want that to happen.

    and definatly agree that saying BTDT helps bc it lets the parent know that we all make mistakes and the important thing is to learn from them

    ETA: i think i've convinced 3 of them to ERF!!
    Amy, CPST & mom to
    Connor 7y- 46# 49in -Monterrey, HB TB, backless amp
    Collin 5y - 45# 41in -MA, Regent and booster training

  11. #10
    CPS Technician Stretchy Glue's Avatar
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    Good ideas. As a teacher we are taught to always give 2 possitives with one negative. The "cute baby" phrase gets them every time. I also always try to find all the things they are doing right first, then go into things they need to correct.
    I've had to cheer a lot of parents up who say "I can't afford a Britax, is my kid safe?" I always say that a properly used Scenera (our most common seat to see) is safer than a misused Britax, and I also tell them that I've seen more misused Britax seats than Sceneras. They don't need to know that we're only now starting to see Britax seats and I bet in 3 years I've only seen 10.
    Joni
    Sunshine, 11, 5'3", 100 lbs in a 15.5" saddle

  12. #11
    Admin - CPST Instructor murphydog77's Avatar
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    I do that too! I always approach the child with a smile and find something to compliment the child on. They're usually afraid of strangers, so that helps break the ice with them and it helps the parent feel good to hear someone say something nice about their child too.

    If the child isn't present, I try to positively comment on the seat, like "Oh, I like that pattern a lot." It's especially important for me when it's a seat I don't like to work with because it starts me off on a better note with that family.

    I also view my job as a customer service position, so I always do my best to give them the best customer service: no bad attitude, thank you, and so on.

  13. #12
    CPS Technician CRS's Avatar
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    Quote Originally Posted by skaterbabscpst View Post
    Always comment on how cute the kid is. Find a specific feature, and compliment it. "She has the most beautiful curls!" or "Wow, those eyes are GORGEOUS!"

    If it's a family, approach one of the older kids first. "How old are you? Seven? Wow, I bet you are a big help to mom and dad! I love your green shirt, that's my favorite color."

    You don't want to scare people right off the bat.
    Oh that's what I do too! (Talk to the older kids)
    Bonnie, Mum to a (38lb) 3 year old rear-facing in a Brio Zento (Black)
    and a (40lb) 4 1/2 year old in a Booster in New Zealand.

  14. #13
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    I don't mean to hijack the thread, but I have a related question: how do you approach a friend that didn't ask you any advice, maybe doesn't even know you're a car seat freak (or a tech) but you've seen her misuse or a child FF too soon?
    DD 5.5yo, 38lbs, 43" - FF in a Radian XT and Frontier85 SICT
    DS 3yo, 33lbs, 38" - RF in Radian XT and Britax MT

  15. #14
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    Quote Originally Posted by Stretchy Glue View Post
    Good ideas. As a teacher we are taught to always give 2 positives with one negative.....
    OT, but maybe I should try this with my older DS (age 6); I seem to be getting annoyed at him too much lately . We have to find a better way to correct misbehavior.... more positive, less negative sounds like a good idea.

    Katrin

  16. #15
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    How funny, I didn't realize I used the sandwich technique at all... but it seems like any time I'm giving critizism to someone I always say something positive first and usually afterwards. lol! That is good to remember though.
    “Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes...
    That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away AND you have their shoes.”

  17. #16
    Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus UlrikeDG's Avatar
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    It's a good technique to use on the forums, especially, because people can't see you to know that you're really not criticizing just trying to give them accurate information.

    In fact, rep points to anyone I "catch" using these techniques on the forums for a while!
    Ulrike, mom to:
    Roman (3/98), Evalina (3/00), Nadia (3/03), and Kira (11/07)


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  18. #17
    CPS Technician JerseyGirl'sMama's Avatar
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    Quote Originally Posted by minismom View Post
    I don't mean to hijack the thread, but I have a related question: how do you approach a friend that didn't ask you any advice, maybe doesn't even know you're a car seat freak (or a tech) but you've seen her misuse or a child FF too soon?
    Ooh, I would like to know this too!!!!
    DD 5.5yrs, FF in a Recaro ProSPORT
    DS 2.75yrs, RF in a Peg Primo Viaggio


    Doofenshmirtz Evil Inc.

  19. #18
    Admin - CPS Technician joolsplus3's Avatar
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    You always get their attention by going on about how cute their baby is...maybe how cute their choice of carseat cover is... then you can say like you just heard this crazy thing yourself about how the chest clip should be at armpit level, or how the tech told you that bundlemes may be dangerous, or wow, there's a new study that said kids are up to 5 times safer when they are rearfacing. That way they don't feel like a fool for not knowing something that they 'should' or like a bad parent for not doing it.
    Julie
    CPST since 2003, pu"R"ple since 2008, three kids growing too fast since 1997, 1999 and 2006

    Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good

  20. #19
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    Quote Originally Posted by joolsplus3 View Post
    You always get their attention by going on about how cute their baby is...maybe how cute their choice of carseat cover is... then you can say like you just heard this crazy thing yourself about how the chest clip should be at armpit level, or how the tech told you that bundlemes may be dangerous, or wow, there's a new study that said kids are up to 5 times safer when they are rearfacing. That way they don't feel like a fool for not knowing something that they 'should' or like a bad parent for not doing it.
    That's what I ended up doing. I had to email my friend info on something else she asked and then added i've been doing carseat research and just found out this thing about ERF, and how I was going to turn dd ff next month but now I won't (and added the youtube video) And wow i can't belive I just found out the straps can't be loose on the shoulder! not sure if she bought it though, but it was the best I could do.
    DD 5.5yo, 38lbs, 43" - FF in a Radian XT and Frontier85 SICT
    DS 3yo, 33lbs, 38" - RF in Radian XT and Britax MT

  21. #20
    Admin - CPS Technician joolsplus3's Avatar
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    Re: Catching flies: techniques for giving advice without turning off your listener

    for trying
    Julie
    CPST since 2003, pu"R"ple since 2008, three kids growing too fast since 1997, 1999 and 2006

    Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good

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