My 4-year-old has been in preschool for four months now, yet we still seem to have the same battle every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday when getting her ready for school. The stalling. The playing. The distraction. She can’t seem to focus on getting ready for school. I’ll have to admit that we probably all take a little too long to get going in the morning. So, that doesn’t help.
I’ve managed to implement some rules like no TV until she is all ready for school. She has gotten used to that. But, we still fall into the same patterns of her using her will power to try with all her might to NOT get ready for school, while I try with all my might to maintain control and not get frustrated with her. Yet, we fall into the same pattern almost every morning. I threaten, and she finally complies with whatever it is I’m asking her to do, like go potty, brush teeth, get dressed, etc. The crazy thing is that she LOVES preschool. Every day she asks me if it is a school day, and if it is not, she is obviously disappointed. So, the problem is not that she doesn’t want to go to school, she just doesn’t want to get ready for school.
What’s a parent to do? A good friend of mine who runs a counseling and adoptive services business, and is an LCSW, is kind of my go-to gal when wanting parenting advice. I always joke how she is my therapist. But, she’s not. She is a good friend though. She also has a little boy that is just a few months older than my preschooler. So, I really love most everything she has to say about parenting. She posted a link to this article, Empowering Children Through Choices, on her website a while back that gives some great advice for my current problem with getting my daughter ready for school everyday.
This article lists the differences between a parent enabling your child to continue in bad behavior, and empowering them to make good choices. I loved it. Here are the differences between the two, taken directly from the article:
It is clean-up time. Why are you just sitting there? (Rhetorical)
All of your friends are able to help. I wonder if you are a baby, not a big girl? (Shaming)
Pick up the toys now, or you will sit on the chair instead of joining us for lunch. (Threatening)
I am going to set the timer for 3 minutes and these better be picked up when it dings. (Implies “or else”)
We go through this every day! I am tired of it. (Conveys hopelessness)
If you don’t want your toys thrown away, you’d better pick them up right now! (Threatening)
I have seen you pick up your toys before. I know you can do it. (Shows faith with a reminder of what the child can do.)
You were really having fun. It is hard to stop playing to clean up. How about I pick up the squares and you pick up the rectangles? (Acknowledges feelings first/divides up the work with help)
[Putting a gentle hand on child’s shoulder] Do you want to put the big blocks away first, or the small blocks? (Uses non-verbal connection and limited choices)
What ideas do you have to get the toys picked up? (Asks for input)
What is supposed to be happening now? (Check for the child’s knowledge/understanding)
It is more fun if we work together. What would you like me to do to help, and what will you do? (Connects)
I think a re-read for me was definitely in order. Maybe with these tools in hand, our next school day prep will go a little more smoothly!