Well, now that Thanksgiving is over I can turn my attention to Christmas. It’s sort of amazing that the day after Thanksgiving I couldn’t wait to put up decorations and hear Christmas music played but before Thanksgiving I didn’t want any of it.
Have you noticed that about your children? And maybe you’ve noticed it about yourself too. When we have a task at hand or a mindset of what something is supposed to be like we have a hard time changing gears and moving to that next thing. We want closure, we want to complete the task, we want to finish what we started.
At the Preschool we see that all day playing out in the classroom. The children may be in the middle of building a block tower and you tell them it’s time to clean up and wash hands for lunch. Let the whining begin. They don’t want to stop, they’re not done. Or maybe they are on the playground and the teacher tells them to line up, it’s time to go inside. You can hear a resounding groan go through the class. They aren’t done playing. They didn’t get to finish their game or they just got to be “IT” and they didn’t get a chance to play the game.
Here at the Preschool, we call these times transitions. And they are tricky little times to maneuver children into the next phase of the day. You may have experienced this at home with your own children. Here are a few ways that we have learned to help with the transition times.
1. Give them some warning…5 more minutes…4 more minutes, 3 more minutes, etc. It doesn’t matter that the 5 more minutes became 8 or 9.
2. Sing a song. When we want the children to stop playing and clean up, some teachers sing a song. We call it…the clean up song, what else? This helps them change from what they are doing to the song and then to the next thing you want them to do.
3. Some teachers turn the lights off and on, signalling that we’re going to have to change pretty soon so get ready.
I could go on and on with examples but you get the picture. Be creative and come up with a few good ones of your own.
Let me give you one example out of my own life’s experiences with my children when they were young. They’re grown and gone now but when we moved to Winter Park we got into the bad habit of going to Wal-Mart to get supplies for our new house and every time we went the kids got a toy. Then one time I said No and of course the whining began because that’s what we always had been doing for the past couple of months. It was quickly becoming a financial issue so I had to figure out how to go to Wal-Mart without always having to get something for the kids AND not have it be such a bad experience for all of us. So, everytime we got in the car I would say…”Now when we go to Wal-Mart today we’re NOT getting a toy”. I repeated that a couple of times as we were driving so they’d have it in their mind. I even made them repeat it. Did it cure them on the first try? No. But over the next couple of weeks they figured out that I was serious and then they quit asking everytime we went to Wal-Mart.
Expectations. We all have them, including children. We just have to figure out as parents how to manage them to everyone’s advantage. Christmas is going to be a time of a lot of transitions and expectations. Coming up with some ideas and putting them into practice for the holidays will help in many ways you aren’t even aware of right now. But you’ll be glad you did.