There is nothing more frustrating than a toddler or young child that put ups the same arguments, procrastinations, tantrums and refusals in order to avoid doing a certain task or behaving in a certain way. Often these should be relatively simple tasks that need to be done on a daily basis but at the first sign of gesticulation, they quickly escalate into World War 3, causing tempers, voices and stress levels to all rise in one sweaty, heart palpitating, ear piercing unison.
As I am firmly entrenched in the midst of guiding a 4th child through toddlerhood and not far off dealing with the same challenges for a 5th and final time, I have had to come up with a few strategies to ensure tasks are performed with minimal of fuss so that one can move on to all the other gazillion tasks that lie in wait. I have learnt that kids love routine. They love knowing what is coming next and they love being able to predict things. Whilst they will probably not admit it anytime soon, they also love boundaries and having these boundaries enforced. But kids also love the feeling that they are in control and that their decision-making plays a part in their daily tasks. As a result of these observations, there are 3 cues that can be used to ensure that we can accommodate these needs whilst maintaining relative peace and a less stressful transition from one task to another.
By preparing a child for what is about to happen, we are not only giving them time to adjust to the idea, but we are giving them a greater sense of predictability. So use statements such as:
“At the end of this program we will be going to bed”
“We can have 3 more turns on the slide, then we need to go home”
By reminding a child the order of things or the way in which tasks need to be performed we are reinforcing a sense of routine, again giving them predictability and a sense of security. For example :
“Remember how we brush our teeth every night before our story”
“Remember how we must wait until the other children have finished on the swing before we have our turn”
3. Ask Questions
Asking questions about what is happening and how tasks need to be performed helps to give them a sense of control, thus ensuring they are far more likely to cooperate. Kids also love getting the answers right, so it is helpful to have them believe that they instigated an activity.
“What’s the first thing we do before we go to bed?”
What happens when we have finished playing with our toys?”
So remember that language and putting a postive spin on words in order to accommodate the needs of our children can help increase the likelihood of cooperation, keep the stress levels under control and ensure we get back to enjoying our families.