The alarm sounds and your day begins. It’s another busy one with work, errands, dentist appointments, play dates, grocery store visits and chores at home. All this action with your young child or children to raise as well. With such a busy day you will need cooperation from your keiki. That sounds easy, right?
Toddlers and preschoolers are notorious explorers and boundary testers. The idea of cooperating with parents while they work through the challenges of a busy day is unfortunately not a top priority. However, don’t stress, with a minimal amount of planning, you can solve many of the day time struggles you and your children face in the world of go-go-go.
Tip 1: Preview the day – Previewing is a technique where you explain the day to your child in the morning at home. It comforts children and helps them feel empowered if they know what is coming in the day ahead. For example, you may say to your four year old, “Today we have three errands to run before we go to the park.” Take this opportunity to let your child know you expect good behavior and cooperation during the errands. If later during the errands some behavior issues arise, they will have this moment to recall when you remind them you expected cooperation.
Tip 2: Find Teachable moments – Children are very intrigued by the world around them. A grocery store is a wonderland for the senses. Glance down at what your child is noticing. Stop the wagon for a second and explain to them what they are looking at. Let them smell the fruit in the produce section. As you go up and down the isles, explain to them what you’re buying and how it will help make a balanced dinner. Let them watch the groceries being bagged and explain that the heavy stuff goes on bottom. Give them a bag to carry out of the store. By involving the child in the experience and giving them the attention and lessons they crave from you, behavior problems diminish. You’ll be surprised to see that adding teachable moments to your errands will add only a few minutes to the task and will make a world of positive difference in the experience.
Tip 3: Thank you in advance – Before embarking on a meeting with a colleague, that you needed to bring your child to after the babysitter cancelled, say something like, “I want to thank you right now because I know you’re going to be very grown up and respectful while I have an important conversation. Interrupting is something you used to do when you were little, but you’re big now and you know better.” This gives the child a sense of success before the event has even started and your child will want to live up to the high expectations you just thanked him/her for having. Of course, thanking them after their good behavior is a great idea too.
Tip 4: The busy bag – This one speaks for itself. Before leaving the house, have your child put items in a bag that will keep him/her busy during your wait at, lets say, the DMV. Let’s face it, you’ll be busy emailing/texting on your phone while you wait and your child needs something to do just like we all do during that long wait. Coloring books, Rubik’s Cubes, picture/reading books are all great choices. You may want to avoid toys with wheels since the natural inclination will be to make the vehicle drive around the DMV, and sitting still will actually become even harder. The busy bag should have some snacks and water too, since very often a behavior issue is really a hunger or thirst issue.
It’s a busy world and we are busy people. Your young children are absolutely capable of cooperation. They need reminders, they need previews, and they need to be acknowledged as part of what is going on instead of being schlepped around like a burden. You are their favorite teacher and everyday life is full of lessons. You CAN get it all done, even with a small child in tow. Keep her interested, keep him learning, keep them busy and you’ll enjoy a less stressful and more rewarding day with your precious little one.
Image Credit: Katie Farley