It’s bedtime and your strung out four or five year old has collapsed into a heap over the suggestion that it’s time for bed. You both know it’s going to get ugly, but you are now caught up in the drama of screaming at each other. So how do you avoid the conflict? You can’t avoid every battle, but you can reduce the drama.
If Junior/ess is motivated by rewards, here’s something to try. You will need
1. A small clear jar (about 8 oz 236 ml).
2. A bag of little plastic beads
3. A bigger jar or jug 4 litre size
Start by figuring out what issue is making you lose your mind the most. Is it bedtime? Eating? It will be different for every family, but decide before getting little one involved what is most important for you to work on
Here’s an example for bedtime issues
Make a chart(pictures help) for order of bedtime activities and the reward earned.
1. Bath time and ending when asked equals one bead
2. Pajamas equals one bead
3. Teeth, hair, bathroom equals one bead
4. Story time, drink lights out equals one bead
5. Staying in bed til morning equals one bead
That makes 5 beads in the little jar. Making a fuss? Lose a bead. Screaming hot mess? Two beads and so on. Hopefully the entire contents of the day’s beads won’t be lost, but be firm on the loss. Once your child realizes that you are not engaging and that the beads are disappearing, it is to be hoped that the histrionics cease.
Now when the little jar is filled, your child can decide if he/she wants to use the bigger jug. The little jar can be a little reward ( it doesn’t have to involve buying a toy-it can be a fun walk in the park or whatever activity you decide upon). You can involve your child in deciding whether to defer the reward by dumping the contents into the bigger jug for a bigger reward. It can be whatever you wish to use as an incentive. It can be saving for a very expensive toy, or a vacation. Use your imagination to think of what will be a suitable motivation for you and your child.
You can expand the chart into other areas as your child grows. For example technology time and number of beads needed for a certain amount of screen time. You can decide what needs to be accomplished to earn a bead and how many beads are needed.
Hopefully you can regain your sanity, have a calmer home and above all a more harmonious family life.
Over the years I have had the joy of teaching and challenging students. Each one has something to teach me. This bright, challenging, and unique little girl(3) always made my drama classes just that much more fun. Here is the story of Lola and her valiant attempts to tell the Think Sun’s version of “The Queen of Hearts”.
The King of Hearts made some tarts all on a winter’s day. (So far so good)…
The Knave of Hearts stole the tarts….dead silence…Knight says “Oh Mrs. Khallad! It’s not looking good!”
Up pops Lola…oops Queen of Hearts inside of castle. She shouts, “Wake up Taras!” “Ya gots ta takes the tarts!” She looks aghast! She takes Taras by the hand…”here Taras ya havta take the tarts…” Taras stares in confusion…Lola places tarts in Taras’ hands. She looks at Mrs. Khallad with barely restrained patience.
“Well I guess I havta take him back to the castle”.
The King of Hearts called for his tarts…again dead silence…By this time Lola is barely able to restrain herself. “William! Ya hasta look for the tarts!” William is looking confused…Lola’s head pops up from the castle once more. “Here William…ya havta look for the tarts-see? No tarts!” dead silence…
And looked behind the door…
Lola sighs…William still looks confused. “Well I guess I have to take him back to the castle now”.
The Knave of Hearts brought back the tarts…didn’t happen. Lola took Taras by the hand and led him back.
And so ends Lola’s One Woman Show! I look forward to seeing my girl accept her academy award in future years.
Nothing creates more angst, anger and defensiveness in parents than the discussion regarding the enrollment of late fall/winter birthday children in kindergarten.
Just to let you know dear readers, I am vehemently against a four year old in kindergarten. These children are generally socially, cognitively, physically and intellectually at a disadvantage if starting kindergarten at this time. These children are youngest in their classes. Their brain development is at least 12-18 months behind other children who’s parents have opted to defer their child’s entry into kindergarten.
These youngest children are four for over half the school year. Expectations for listening, printing, reading and understanding concepts of the curriculum are for a five year old brain. These children function not at the top of the class but rather in the middle or lower part of the class.
I want parents to look ahead to their child’s future. Junior high is hard enough for age appropriate students. These children are 11 years old in grade 7 for over half the year. And at the age of 13, these children must decide their high school courses! They will be in grade 12 at the age of 16. Somehow their marks must be high enough to open doors to their future. But they are competing with all those other students who have led the way simply by virtue of that extra year of brain growth their parents gave them back before kindergarten.
So I beg parents to think long and hard. Yes daycare is expensive and preschool is also a pain to get to. But it is 10 months of sacrifice. The benefits of deferring entry so that your child is amongst the eldest has far reaching results. Eldest in class has the advantage of more confidence in withstanding negative peer group pressure. These children are able to quickly grasp concepts, are physically able to coordinate their bodies to participate in sports activities and their brains have had that time to develop. This results in a happier, more confident child eager to tackle all aspects of education.
In 29 years of teaching preschoolers, I have yet to meet a parent that regretted that extra year. I have heard plenty of parents of junior high children who regretted not giving their child that extra year.