Kid crying about something? My top 5 favourite distractions

It’s no secret that kids are easily distracted. Here’s my top 5 list for great ways to distract them when they’ve bumped themselves/had something taken away/crying for no reason at all:

 1. Show them photos

For some reason both my girls like the game “Who’s that?”, which basically just involves pointing at a photo and saying…”Who’s that?”. Then I answer my question with who it is and point at someone else. Despite the obvious repetitiveness for the parent, this one kills with really little kids (0-2 y.o.) and especially good if they’re screaming because their sister stepped on their foot.

 2. Show them themselves in the mirror

What’s better than seeing inanimate pictures and being asked: “Who’s that?”? Seeing yourself moving around and being asked: “Who’s that?”! Mirrors are your friend. I’m almost certain this is the beginning of an extreme vanity of self, but kids are fascinated by people very interesting people moving along just like they are. They also get the fun of discovering there are two daddies — one holding them and one holding their twin in the mirror. Maybe it’s cruel to torture them like this. But they stop crying, so hey.

 3. Do something exciting with a toy (any toy)

Picture this. You just fell down and hit your head on an upended stool your sibling placed in the middle of the room blocking your way. Your world is pain and you want to let everyone know this. But then — out of nowhere — a stuffed toy starts magically dancing around before your very eyes! Not only this, but it talks in a funny high-pitched voice. Amazing! It’s like all your bad fortune has just turned around! What was that other thing that just happened? Ah, who cares, this dancing fluffy unicorn is so mesmerising!

 4. Point to something uninteresting with an interested voice

Let’s be honest. Trees are not that interesting. Neither are houses or windows. Yet I find myself pointing them out regularly to my 11-month old daughter when she’s crying. Like, “Wow, can you see all the trees/houses/people? Amazing! Aren’t we lucky to live in a place that shows us such wonders!” (This has, by accident, reminded me that these things are actually quite good and I take them for granted. But mostly it stops her crying).

 5. Ask them about something unrelated that they like (3+)

I have bad news for you. Children catch on to these tricks we play and as they get older they decide they’d prefer to keep crying. My tactics for my 3-year old now don’t involve mirrors so much. But there are still ways around this, let me tell you. Why not try asking about how Grandma bought her ice cream yesterday? Good times, right? Oh, and that time we went to the shops and there was an Elsa doll? Those were heady days! You really still want to cry even though your life is so full of great things?!


It’s probably obvious from my list that I’m no expert in this, I’m literally just listing my go-to’s. And unfortunately, your kids aren’t as awesome as mine so they’re unlikely to work for everyone. It’s worth a shot though. Nobody ever hated making their kid smile through tears.


Malcolm Purdey is a Christian, husband, father, student minister and science nerd. He completed a PhD in Chemistry and worked as a research scientist before making the jump into ministry in early 2017. He has been married for 5 years and has two daughters aged 3 and 1.

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