Common Behavior Stumbling Blocks
For parents with young preschoolers
Bedtime is a pain?
Bath time is a mess?
Getting Dressed is pure hell?
Eating dinner is deadly?
Staying at the table for meals is impossible?
Playing fairly (sharing)…are you kidding?
These are typical times that create havoc for parents. If you are the fortunate parent who has a well behaved child and one who always cooperates, then pass on this article to someone you know who is struggling.
First things, first: You are not a bad parent. Even if you have thoughts of throwing your own tantrum….give yourself a little break. Relax, ease up. What I have found are the biggest issues for parents are one or more of the following:
Expecting to accomplish too much in one day
Expecting perfection from yourself or your child
Not being firm with your child (not mean, not angry) but clear and direct.
Feeling guilty for not giving in to your child’s desires
Resenting the other parent or absent partner who is not aligned with you
There are usually 3 areas of struggle that all conflicts go back to. They are:
The ideal approach is to see the potential for distress before it has occurred and create a new pattern that will alleviate the appearance of a violation of space, property or attention. A child who feels “in control” of their own space will chose to use it properly. A child who feels forced to be in a space they don’t want will be in conflict (or clinging to you.) I will discuss SPACE in this article.
Set up personal space areas to encourage, enhance and excite your child’s independent use of space. Create small trays or buckets of a limited number of toys or playthings that go together. (3-5 small cars in one bucket, 2 dolls and clothing in another bucket…)
Your child should have no more than 3-5 options in their play space to choose from. Of course you may have more than that. Put them in the closet and rotate occassionally. Then the items are so much more fun because they are new! Your child should have access to items (not the ones in the closet, the other ones) and be physically capable of lifting and moving them, picking them up and so forth.
Set up personal space in common areas, too. For instance, create a crayon tray (with paper, stickers, markers, scissors and other writing needs) that keeps those items in their space and creates a place to be used. (This will lead to a great homework area in later years.)
Bath time and bedtime also can benefit from organized personal space. Choose a basket for your child’s shampoo, towel, wash cloth and limit to one or two water toys. This should be accessible to your child so that bath time issues are in their power. They can bring it out and set it near the tub ready for your help.
Dinner time or any meal can be easily encouraged with more child involvement. You don’t need to cook with your child to make this happen (but you can). Meals and snacks can be an event all into themselves. Parents tend to make the mechanics of life like bath, bed and meals efficient. Slow down. These are some of the best learning opportunities you will have and the most enjoyable times. Allow your child to spread peanut butter on a cracker, dip an apple slice in nutella or use a toothpick to skewer fruit pieces into a mini kabob. Using placemats will delineate space and be helpful for instilling personal responsibility.
These are just a few ideas for getting a better look at working through the transition times with young ones. Don’t forget to take pictures of the ordinary moments.