Short Phrases Parents Can Use…
A timely review!
With the New Year comes a lot of pressure to do new things. Sometimes, adding more “new things” sets us up to feel like we’re never getting enough done. This month instead of a new parenting phrase, we’re going to REVIEW a magical phrase we introduced at the start of the school year.
“It’s time to…”
Do you remember this one? Are you using it consistently or have you wavered a bit? Here’s the gist: We often make directions sound optional by turning them into questions.
“Would you like to take a bath?”
“Ready for dinner?”
“Pick up your shoes, OK?”
We can slip into this talking style by habit, or because we want to be kind to our children (a good thing!), or because maybe we’re not really confident ourselves about what needs to happen next, or we dread our child’s upset so we try to soften our instructions. The way we talk to our children, including the words and tone, we use matters. So here are a few things to mull over…
Your preschooler needs you to be their gentle and firm leader. They need your help and your direction to learn the basics of life - like brushing your teeth, getting sleep, eating, etc. It is in your child’s best interest to learn how to follow directions. You give your child practice doing that by giving clear directions. Clear is kind.
Instead of the ambivalent examples above, try:
“It’s time to take a bath.”
“It’s time for dinner.”
“It’s time to pick up your shoes.”
Once the phrase has left your lips, be prepared to follow through. Wise parents are prepared and unruffled by pushback. If your child says “no,” ignores you, or starts to meltdown, follow this 3 step sequence:
Say: “It’s time to clean up.”
(Wait 5 seconds) “Child’s name, it’s time to clean up.”
(Wait another 5 seconds) “You can clean or I’ll help you.” Then physically help your child by lightly and calmly engaging in hand over hand help or some other action to make progress together.
Final tip: To navigate the emotional upset your child may exhibit transitioning from doing something enjoyable to something they might not enjoy as much, give a five-minute warning. “In five minutes, it will be time to leave the playground.” Then set the timer on your phone and keep your deadline.