Planning ahead is a big part of parenting. In the workplace you constantly plan for meetings, yet we don’t plan enough in our home environment. Even something as seemingly simple as setting off for school in the morning requires a bit of forethought.
"Our role as parents is to coach them rather than do for them. To give them ideas through discussion so that they get to feel like it’s their own idea."
Firstly, parents need to anticipate certain problems at departure time – such as how long it will take a child to comfortably put their coat on without feeling rushed and frustrated. Try to build in that little bit of extra time for putting on shoes and coats before leaving the house. It never hurts to have a few spare minutes in hand for unforeseen problems, such as a stuck zipper or tangled shoelaces.
Secondly, try to make questions and problem-solving replace the bribes. The more choices you give your child in the lead-up to leaving the house, the more control they will feel they have had. If they have been able to choose what’s for breakfast, which socks to wear, which bag to take with them each morning, they will be more likely to relinquish control when it’s time to leave because they’ve had a role in deciding so much of the rest.
"By turning the act of getting ready to go into a game, the conflict of having to pull them away from their toys and out of the house is removed."
Children do not have a concept of time before the age of 5 or 6, so for very young ones it’s a really good idea to use sand timers to signify when it’s time to go. You’ll need 5 minutes ones and 10 minutes ones and even 2 minute ones for brushing their teeth. When you put the sand timer down you say ‘this is five minutes and when this is has got to the bottom, this means we have to leave’. Young children can’t help but find this exciting. They will keep going back to the sand timer to see if it’s run out. Because the act of getting ready to go has been turned into a game, the conflict of having to pull them away from their toys and out of the house is removed.
Our role as parents is to coach them rather than do it for them. To give them ideas through discussion so that they get to feel like it’s their own idea. Ultimately the goal is getting them to do things because they want to do them. So, although they may get frustrated because it’s difficult overcoming small challenges such as leaving their toys behind and going to school, down the line much harder challenges will occur and overcoming these minor frustrations is what builds confidence and the self-esteem.