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Good job, you!
You’ve planned the day perfectly. After eating a healthy breakfast, the kids will get dressed, hop into the car, and hit the Children’s Museum for an hour of fun. Next, you’ll head to your favorite kid-friendly, foodie-pleasing lunch spot, then home for a nap. While the kids sleep, you’ll prep dinner, freeing up the afternoon for a walk to the library to check out books about Santa, driedels, and snowmen.
It seems like the perfect plan for a gray December day. Trouble is, you didn’t mention your perfect plan to you-know-who. And so…
The kids are sluggish getting out of bed. Brother has suddenly adopted a strict anti-sock policy, and sister don’t want to go to the museum, she wants to go to grandma’s house — now!
Your perfect plan is crumbling, fast.
Let’s face it, kids like routine. Being able to predict what is happening day-to-day gives them a sense of security and control over their world. When it comes to your museum day, they’re likely balking because they didn’t know your plan was in place. You skipped an important step by not helping them make that transition.
Lay Out the Plan
When young children suddenly hear “Say goodbye to your friends, we’re leaving,” or “We’ve got to head home from the playground now,” it’s a shock from the blue, bad news dropped like a cartoon anvil. Being able to comfortably transition into new activities can be challenging. But you can help prepare your child.
The night before your museum day, tell her about it. Define the plan in language she understands during your bedtime routine. If you have a book about museums, read it and ask questions about what she hopes to see and do there. Talk about how the day will unfold: having breakfast, getting dressed, and hitting the road. Come morning, your child will wake up with your plan in mind and the day will more likely be free of surprises and slow-downs.
With bigger transitions, like a move or the arrival of a new sibling, talk about the event in tangible terms young ones understand. “After school ends, we’ll be moving to a new place, with a new school and new friends.” Or, “In nine months, you’ll get to meet your new brother or sister.” Help your child understand that while change will take place, what doesn’t lessen is your unwavering love. Families must all pull together, especially when change is underway.
Define the Timeline
Once your kids are filled in on the plan, reinforce the timeline. With smaller daily activities, talk in terms of minutes: “In 20 minutes, we’ll leave for the museum and you’ll need to have eaten breakfast and gotten dressed. I’ll help you as we get ready to go.” Kids respond much better to a schedule when they know what’s going on.
With bigger transitions, sketch out an age-appropriate version of the timeline and keep them informed.
“We’re painting the guest room this weekend to get ready for your baby brother.” Or, “In two months we’ll be moving into our new house. Have you thought about how your new room should look?”
When the whole family is filled in on the plan, transitions can be drama-free. Aim to make change a fun adventure rather than a scary shock.
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