Sunday, June 6, 2010

day 153: five minute warnings and preparing for what’s next

“After we played army men, it was almost time for bed. Mommy gave us a five minute warning—which meant we only had five more minutes of fun before we had to clean up our toys. I wanted to leave it set up for tomorrow, but Mommy said tomorrow is “grocery and doctor day,” so we would be gone in the morning. She even said I could wear my new blue shirt! I can’t wait.” “Jonathan’s Journal”

Back to exasperating our preschoolers—or should I say, not exasperating them? One of the most important Preventive Parenting tips that we give is that of warning our children of upcoming events and times. Transitioning from one event to another without a bolt of “Put that away and come here now!”

Two specific examples of this are illustrated in today’s excerpt: (1) “Mommy gave us a five minute warning—which meant we only had five more minutes of fun before we had to clean up our toys” and (2) “Mommy said tomorrow is grocery and doctor day…”

The first aspect, that of the five minute warning, has saved our family a lot of grief! We always gave our kids at least a five minute warning before asking them to transition from what they were doing to whatever was next. We did this when we had company, and it was nearly time to start cleaning up for the guests to leave. We did this when they were playing something, and we needed for them to get ready for something else. We did this when they were busy and it was nearing bedtime. And on and on. Our kids knew that we would never demand that they stop what they were doing right then—but they also knew that when we gave the warning, they needed to start preparing themselves mentally for the switch.

The second aspect, that of telling Jonathan what was about to take place the next day, is equally important. We always told our kids each day what the next day would hold. (Now that all of our kids are older, we always go over the calendar for the week, so that everybody knows what we all have going on.) In today’s passage, Jonathan could look forward to wearing that blue shirt he had been wanting to wear! But in addition to this, it helps set the stage for the next morning. They know when they rise that we have a schedule to keep that involves outside influences—and we can’t keep those people waiting.

Giving expectations to our children. A definite plus in raising preschoolers. A form of deference and character in our own lives as we seek to treat our littles “as we would want to be treated.”

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