The Secret Life of a Jacket

Use inanimate objects to teach, motivate and have fun. 

Use inanimate objects to teach, motivate and have fun. 

Have trouble getting out the door with your 2 - 8 year-old? Let a jacket come alive!

My almost-4-year-old asks for his blue jacket to talk in anticipation of a departure. The jacket says how it loves to keep him warm, enjoys sleeping on its hook at night, and likes to teach zippering. When my son refuses to get ready or is dawdling, the jacket is eager to tell him how much it wants to play and be worn, how much it loves to walk him to school. If my son is sad or frustrated or mad, the jacket empathizes. And it even shares stories of its own frustration, like the time the zipper just wouldn't connect. 

Of course this works with anything - socks, shoes, backpack, car seat. Give that inanimate object a life story, feelings and goals. Give it a voice. It doesn't even have to prod your child to get ready, it simply needs to be, because it will be the most interesting thing. Your child's motivation to interact with the object will overtake any distraction or resistance. 

I'm not a proponent of being your kid's all-time entertainment. Nor of manipulation. But I know that when you are trying to do something on adult time, adult logic isn't always the best guide. And even when a firm voice or yelling is effective, it isn't the best teacher. Playfulness with objects can teach creativity, empathy, family values like being on time, and pretty much anything that you might want to lecture about. And it is way more fun.

This post is also published on the Minnesota Children's Museum blog