While I never fully understood why boy scouts said “We’ll dib, dib, dib, dib…. We’ll dob, dob, dob, dob” I knew as much as this; it somehow represented a commitment to be prepared.
That should have been my mantra during labour, because I’ve since discovered that when I’m not prepared with and for my children things don’t go well.
One Sunday night I was kicking back with friends – sure it was fun at the time, everyone’s endorphins were high and we were living in the moment – but that didn’t help me on Monday morning when the house was a mess, the kids stated they had no clean school uniform, I didn’t get to the fruit and veg shop and the kids were complaining that they had to have carrot sticks for fruit snack. Where was my ‘dib-dob’ mantra then?
And that’s only referring to me – as an adult. Imagine how little people feel when they have the rug pulled from beneath their feet?
Kids like routine. It’s no secret that being clear in expectations and sticking to them keeps a household bubbling along in a much more productive way. However, things can’t always go to plan – life just isn’t always scheduled and can’t always be controlled. So how can we help kids adapt and adjust?
Here are some ideas that I’ve found helpful.
Give information. If you know that you are taking your child to a BORING, unavoidable environment (e.g. a quiet waiting room) let them know. I recently took my children to church, which was not a part of their usual routine. I know that the quiet stillness would be a challenge for them so I described church conduct as best I could… I still had whispers of ‘When is it over?’ but they handled it the best way they could.
Acknowledge their feelings. In that tricky situation, like the church visit, I needed to let my kids know that I recognised what they were doing was a stretch for them. Saying things like ‘I know it’s tricky to sit still and quietly’ and even affirming their ideas… ‘yes, I know this is boring to you’…
Problem solve before you get there. Years ago, I used to visit my sick grandma in hospital. It was also a challenging environment for my 5 and 6-year-old to behave appropriately in. On the way, I would conduct tip number 1 and 2(above)… “We are going to visit Grandma in hospital. Hospitals are where sick people stay to get better. They are quiet places. I know it can be tricky to be quiet but we need to try our best”. Further to this we would discuss ‘how will you handle it if….’ (On a side note, I just love the phrase ‘how will you handle it’. This allows kids to think to themselves ‘what would make it better?What will I do if it’s tricky?’It’s emotional homework – making the situation much easier if and when challenges arise.)
State expectations clearly before you get there. I think we all remember this as a child. “We’re going to Grandma’s house, you need to give her a kiss and cuddle!” However, the more explicit you can be about your expectations the more accepting your child will be of them. It’s much easier to then say “Hey – Grandma cuddles!” then launch into a big lecture while they buzz around in a new environment, over-stimulated and not ready to listen. (At least in the car they are strapped in and HAVE to listen!!)
Have you got some good ‘boy-scout’ ideas? Preparation is the key, whatever that may look like in your family.