(Tool within the Multilevel Emotion Regulation Theory (MERT) 

A Parking Book is a simple tool to channel the talking energy of our children and create calm and focus. It can be a book, a blackboard or a flip-chart, where children can write down their questions or the topics they would like to discuss. 

“I cannot hear myself think!”

This helps to create calm and focus in the home because many of our children like talking – a lot. They talk as a way to express their thinking or emotional process, and often they don’t really need an audience. And let’s be honest, as a mum it is great to be able to hear yourself think once in a while, or even enjoy some silence. This tool helps to channel that talking energy.

So when our children go off on a tangent on a subject and you do not have the energy to really listen and be a critical-thinking, stimulating audience, please allow yourself not to – even better, allocate a specific time to have this conversation. 

“I cannot listen now”

You might say something like: “You can talk to me, that’s fine, but I cannot listen now, you can draw/write the subjects down and we’ll get back to them later when it’s Parking Book time.”

If you need quiet you can even add something like “I am going to listen to music now” and put in the earphones of your mp3, or “I’m putting in earplugs in so I can more easily concentrate on what I want to do.”

Critical thinking

The children can add ideas to the Parking Book whenever they feel the need. At a specific time, it might be three times a week, mum (or dad) will have time to look at their ideas with them. The parent starts with asking if the issues parked are still current, and for the child to number them in priority. Subsequently, the parent might be able to help the child find the answer, discuss it through, model critical thinking through asking in depth questions, facilitate finding further information online or in the library, or refer to a family member or ‘specialist’ to discuss the topic with.

Enjoyable routine

Parking Book discussion time is easiest when it’s part of the routine and a specific time is set during the week for it e.g. Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3-4pm during snack time, so the children are aware there is limited time and have to choose what they want to discuss, that will help teach them to postpone gratification, learn to prioritise and use the time available as effectively as possible.


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