Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Involving your children in your day

Have you noticed that your kids tend to have difficult leave-takings (saying goodbyes)? Do they throw tantrums when it's time to leave the park, go to school, leave a friend's house, run errands?

I believe that the main causes of this are two things.

1)They aren't given proper warning before it's time to leave places. A great example of how to do this:

Parent: "Anne, we get to play at the park for 10 more minutes. What would you like to do before we go?"
then...
"Anne, we're going in 5 minutes. Have you done everything you wanted to do at the park?"
then...
"Anne, we're off in two minutes to get our grocery shopping done and then go home. Time to say goodbyes to the park and gather our things."
then...
"Bye bye park! thanks for the fun!"

Using this method, your child may still express sadness at leaving, or frustration at wanting to play longer, but rarely will they tantrum.

2)They don't know how the day will go. Kids want to be involved in the day's plan. They want to have some impact on it, and have some predictability in their day.

Every night before bedtime I suggest verbally laying out the following day for them. This would be something like:

Parent: "Anne, tomorrow is a school day. We'll get ready for school and head out the door early in the morning for school. What would you like in your lunchbox?

Allow Anne to have input.

Parent: "After I pick you up from school, we're going to have some free time. What would you like to do? Go to the park, the library, or play at home?"

Allow Anne to input.

Parent: "If it's raining, the library or at home play will need to be chosen instead of the park, huh."

Anne will most likely agree, or you can set a healthy limit, or plan to bring rain gear and see what the park is like in the rain!

Parent: "After play time, we'll need to stop at the grocery store to get dinner. What would you like for dinner, broccoli or green beans?"

Allowing Anne a choice between two things you approve of is a great idea! (She may say "neither" then you can ask if she wants to choose or if you should).

Parent: "After the store we're heading home and I'll make dinner while you do your homework (or chores, whichever she needs to do.), and after dinner it's time for bath and then bed."

Anne has received an overview of her day, allowing her input on things that are optional, and thus respecting her and her preferences, ideas, wishes and dreams.

I would suggest reviewing the plan on waking, and at each transition point between changing environments. This doesn't have to be a full overview, just a little reminder of what's coming next:

Parent: "I'll see you after school, and we'll go to the park!"

I find that children have much more joy in their days when they know what to expect, have input in their lives, and have opportunities to influence their parents. When possible, I love to give kids the "run of the day". They get to choose what to do, when to do it, and how. What fun, and great learning for them! Of course, the parents are in charge, but by giving your child the reins for the day they get to have a wonderful experience, and pride in choosing a great day for the family.

1 Comments:

At 1:53 PM, Blogger DM said...

I was amazed at how much this actually helps - it's so easy
(when you remember!) My little one is only 23 months and we've been doing this since she was 6 months (thank you Schyler!) and we really notice a difference when we forget! Which we did when she started getting more verbal!

Now it's fun to ask her, "Hey hunny, it's Friday tomorrow... what are you going to do?" "'C Deb, cooper-dog, Parwish (Paris), Ayexis (Alexis) and the baby (Rafael - who is all of 22 months, 2 months her jr.)" These are the important people to her at daycare and she is delighted to tell me she knows she's going there in "Daddy's Cheep (Jeep)".
It works... Thank you Schyler!

 

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