In the beginning children are learning about the world in which they live and how it works. Having a sense of knowing what and when things occur are very important factors in children developing trust, confidence and being able to thrive in life. Although children are flexible and adaptable they are uncompromising on certain things especially when they are toddlers and preschoolers.
It is very difficult for people to thrive in a stressful environment. Even as adults when there is too much uncertainty and unpredictability we become anxious. We understand that change is inevitable and nothing stays the same forever but we sure feel a lot better when things don’t change. Stress effects the whole functioning of our bodies, our breathing, thinking and in children it effects their development.
When we are stressed, essential blood flow is redirected from our brain and goes to our extremities putting us in a state of fight or flight. For children the brain, muscles and experiences all play a major role in the development, not just physically but emotionally, mentally and socially also. So we need blood flowing to and through the brain as well as oxygen and essential nutrients to ensure proper development of children. So not causing too much stress in their lives helps that to happen.
Children requiring stability and sameness in order to thrive and be successful may seem like common sense. But we as adults don’t realize that when are ready to move beyond something and have heard it a million times already or have done it a million times already , children still want to hear it or do it over and over again. Failure to realize this will cause stress and friction as well as resistance in children.
Sometimes teachers and parents, because they are not aware of how children develop on the various different levels, mistakenly take the resistance as defiance or disobedience. But if you put yourself in their shoes you would understand how they feel and use a different approach. For example you want your preschooler to clean up after playing and want them to put everything away. So you walk into their space and say okay Tommy it’s time to clean up, time for bed, bath, school or whatever.
I can guarantee for the most part they are not going to immediately start putting the toys away. Sometimes we cause ourselves and our children a lot of unnecessary stress by not taking into consideration the entire picture. Take yourself for example, you are engaged in your favorite t.v show or reading a really interesting piece or just really engaged. Some one comes in at that moment and wants you to do something immediately. Do you really want to do it right then and there and drop what was so wonderful and engaging for you? NO!!!!!!!!!!
A better solution would be to tell Tommy when the big hand gets on the __ on the clock it will be time to put all of your toys away. Give him a warning and an opportunity to prepare for the transition. It may look to you like he is still playing but he is making the transition. Make sure you synchronize your timepieces so you come back exactly when you said and remind him that it is time to clean up. Give him a couple of minutes to start moving and don’t have a fit when he doesn’t hop to it, because he may need a couple of seconds.
Having a little song that you both sing together that either he’s familiar with or you both make up helps a lot. Children needs multiple cues and we need a tiny bit of patience. So what would be helpful is for us to make sure there’s enough time to do the task considering that he will take his time or there may be a bit of delay. Take a deep breath if you have to. What helps with me is if I begin to do something else to in the same area so I am not looking at them seeming to take forever.
This is where the sameness and stability comes in. You have to first establish and create how this all works and then repeat it exactly the same way every time. So give Tommy the warning, making him aware of what time this should start come back the same time and sing your song. You will notice that he will move quicker and the results will be faster but not in the very beginning.
If you have to leave the room and then come back and it’s not done.Treat it as a game rather than defiance and say. “Oh my goodness! I don’t believe my eyes there are toys still on the floor ! There must be something wrong with my eyes! I wonder if I go away and come back will the toys be gone. What do you think Tommy? He will have a big grin on his face and you will leave and come back and those toys will probably be picked up and put away.
Then you can say “Oh my goodness! I LOVE WHEN THAT HAPPENS!!! HOW WONDERFUL !!!! THANK YOU TOMMY FOR PICKING UP THOSE TOYS SO FAST! WOW YOU ARE A FAST CLEANER! THANK YOU!!!
Using this approach every one is happy and feeling good. And everyone gets what they want to. By following the same way every time. Tommy knows what is expected of him. He learns about consistency and how to make his mom or dad or teacher happy which makes him happy and you feel good about your child. So try it and let me know how it turns out. I would love to hear from you . Feel free to post a comment of your experiences or opinion.