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Follow Through. Realistic expectations of little ones.

Miranda!  What a fantastic question!  Follow through is so important through every phase of parenting!  Let's start off by talking about following through with little ones, namely preschoolers and under.

The reason follow through is so important is it lets your children know you're in charge and gives them a sense of security through routine and consistent expectations.  Follow through is made up of many parts, but today I want to talk about realistic expectations.

If you set a rule that your child needs to always put their toys away before dinner, and everyday at 4:30, you tell him you'll be in to help him clean up in five minutes, then come into his toy room, all happy and chatty, visiting with him while you help him tidy up, and telling him what a good job he did when he's finished.

It's a realistic expectation your child will think of in a positive manner and will just come to expect it as part of his daily routine.

If you set a rule that your child needs to always put his toys put away before dinner, and five minutes before you're ready to sit down to the table call to him in a frustrated tone that "Those toys had better be put away!"  You're little one is going to panic! He'll probably start crying, and if he's able to do what you've asked at all, he'll certainly do it poorly and come to hate the idea of tidying up!  Avoiding it at all costs!  Forcing you to nag, harp, threaten, etc.

Small children almost always need help with their tasks.
They need plenty of time to complete them.  They need really clear, really specific, instructions on exactly what you require from them.

They can't remember a "to do list", give them one task at a time and let them finish it.  And they need to be given a patient and understanding environment to learn what you want from them. 

If you're having trouble following through on what you've required of your child (aka, having to tell you're child to do something 10 times before they do it), maybe you're just asking too much of them. 

Ask yourself, if he's really capable of doing this, at this age.  If so, then preserver, but make every effort to make the experience a positive one for them.  Pretty soon they will begin to enjoy the routine of their day and stop fighting you on what you've ask them to do.

Our "Clean Up Song" from when the girls were little;
Everybody, everywhere, clean-up, clean-up
Everybody in your underwear, clean-up, clean-up
Everybody here and there, clean-up, clean-up

I know, silly, but we liked it!  ;)

Reader Comments (2)

I love this. Till I try it. Then I go down to the basement, I give them each only one task, ie) Caleb clean the costumes and Jonathan clean up the stuffies, I'll clean the blankets... within minutes, one is crying because the other isn't doing their job, or they believe the task they were assigned isn't fair, or they want me to help directly with their task, which really means do it for them. Quickly my postive, happy smile starts to vanish and I find myself totally frustrated. It doesn't take long for the clean up to again be a very unsatisfying job for all of us. HELP!

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFavian

Hi Favian,
Sounds to me like they're causing trouble to get out of what they're supposed to be doing. Try following up by explaining what will happen if they start arguing, cause trouble, don't do their job nicely.

Pleasantries are always a good place to start, but if they're just stirring the pot because they know they can get you flustered you need to lay down the law.

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShonna

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