Parenting a Preschooler: Who’s in charge here??!!
I have been doing Kids Parties in NJ for just about 20 years now and most of the children I entertain are between the ages of 1 and 5. These young people are so curious and so easily distracted, that they can go from activity to activity and are constantly hungry for more. So how can you keep up without getting exhausted, losing patience and finally giving up? No one has all the answers or we would have all bought the book. Each child is so different and unique. However, I do believe that there are a few things you CAN do to stay calm in the chaos.
This is how I see it: Our little ones want to be treated like “big kids,” don’t they? Aren’t they telling you “I do it myself” almost as fast as they can speak? On your side of things, aren’t you saying to yourself “I am an ADULT! I don’t always feel like playing!” So who gets to be the boss? Here is something I want you to know for sure. You ARE the boss. There is no need to prove it or to feel threatened by someone about ¼ your size! Admit it – you do feel threatened. Why else would you get so upset when you don’t get your way? They just won’t listen? I really want you to think about WHAT you say and HOW you say it.
Six Steps to Cooperation:
1. The word “NO!” loses its power when over-used. They will learn to tune it out and turn you off. Save “no” for the danger zone. “NO running into the street!” If there they are reaching for the remote control again, say “That’s not for Johnny,” or “I need you to stop that please.” And repeat calmly and often.
2. Tell them what you want them to DO. Instead of “Don’t run!” Say “Please walk!” And please use please and thank you, just like you want them to do.
3. Give them choices. This is an age population craving a sense of power. They don’t like feeling so helpless; it’s scary. Choices will make them more cooperative with you in the end. Just be sure to give no more than two choices of things that are acceptable to you.
4. When you tell your child, “We are leaving right now if you don’t stop that!” Does it work? Didn’t think so. Skip the empty threats. Just makes you look powerless. Say what you will actually do, and then follow through!
5. Routine! Routine! Routine! Children need to know what to expect from their day so they can feel safe and calm. Also, letting them know when things will happen ahead of time will help with transitions to the next activity.
6. Time Outs don’t work! The purpose of a punishment is to teach a lesson. Your child will spend the time in “time out” being mad at you! They are not thinking, “Man, if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have to sit here!” Look for ways to TEACH in that moment WHY their behavior isn’t okay and that it is NOT going to get them what they want. Blaming them for wanting something inappropriate at the time is a waste of your time. Teach instead of punish. Follow through with natural consequences when possible.
Do you have questions? Do you have suggestions? Please comment on my blog here! I would really love to hear your thoughts!