Here you are, already on Day 3 towards your goal to stop yelling. You’ve learned thus far to talk less, act more and to find out how you can create more predictability around some of the tougher times of your day – meal times, bed times, transitions (like getting ready to leave).
You know the scene — you have just made a request for your child to get ready — “Time to get your shoes on!” you call out enthusiastically. You go into the kitchen to start making lunches or clean up the breakfast dishes believing that your child is, indeed, getting his shoes on.
You come out just in time to grab your keys and coat and head out the door when you discover that he has actually been coloring for the past 10 minutes. You feel a flush of anxiety and frustration wash over you because you don’t want to be late and this shoe delay may just be the task that does it — prevents you from being able to leave your home in a timely, calm state.
Despite your rising blood pressure, you maintain your cool and remember your tips from Day 1 and Day 2. You get down to his eye level, put your hand gently on his back; he looks up at you and you say, “shoes” with a twinkle in your eye. You’re hopeful and yet, probably filled with fear that he won’t do it.
Guess what? You’re right! You know him so well! He wants to finish his picture for you. “Noooo, I’m not done!” he pleads. You’re torn by the sweetness of his desire to create art for you and the desire to pull your hair out since he seems completely oblivious to your absolute need to leave ASAP.
Deep breath. What are you supposed to do when you face his refusal to cooperate? You suck in your desire to yell or to get angry in this moment and you take a deep breath and…
Adjust your expectations. Acknowledge your child’s age and keep development in mind.
Face it mama, your young child really has no concept of time yet. Children don’t even learn how to tell time until around 2nd grade!
Being early? Being late? These concepts of time are not relevant, nor are they a motivator for your child to do what you’ve asked of them.
Knowing that life with young children…
and can push your buttons
– your own virtues of patience and flexibility need strengthening.
Strive to predict how your child will respond to your requests and be present with him until follow-through when you suspect that he may get distracted or go into slow motion without your hands-on help.
Making requests of young children, even just one, but especially with multiple tasks, requires that you understand what is cognitively appropriate. Recognize that you’re dealing with an individual whose short-term memory, attention span, and concept of time is still in development.
If those shoes need to be on those feet in order to leave in 5 minutes, take the time to see that it’s done, rather than creating more work for yourself by assuming he is fully capable of complying to your request on his own. Remember, only you know exactly what a “few minutes” really means.
By keeping your expectations in check and guiding your child from point A to point B with fortitude, you are helping your child every day learn how to be responsible, helpful, and self-disciplined. In order to teach him something, you must be patiently present to see it through.
I know it’s hard, tedious, and exhausting – believe me – I know! Let’s face it, if you give in to the yelling, it becomes the only voice your child will ever “hear” as their cue to cooperate. Your patient presence is far more beneficial in achieving your ultimate goal of creating a peaceful home.