When I was pregnant with Aidan, being "prepared" to me, was making sure his new environment would be ready with everything we would need to safely take care of him in physical and intellectual ways. From the crib, to diapers, to blankets, to medicine, to outlet plugs, to board books, to soft blocks, etc, etc. As he quickly grew and I went back to work, "being prepared" turned into something else as well that I feel all parents can identify with, behavior. To "be prepared" for a child's behavior, as well as our own reaction to the behavior, requires social-emotional awareness and understanding. Behaviors are mentally exhausting and can quickly pull you down, screaming on the floor with your child. In my previous job, I had access to information and attended seminars that opened my eyes to some wonderful resources on behavior. My favorites include:
There are many more wonderful resources and tips out there, but I found myself using various techniques from both of these sources the most, on the job, and with my own son. One I'd like to share in particular, that I carried multiple copies of with me for providers and parents, is Eight practical tips for parents of young children with challenging behavior. It's basic, short, and a great foundation for understanding children's behavior. Anyone can benefit from it's points, because even the most laid back children have their days, and like all kids, are learning how to control their emotions. These emotions can be scary to a child who doesn't understand or know what this complicated part of their self is yet, resulting in various behaviors that irritate or scare us.
Here are a few of the eight tips, refer to the link above for the others:
- Keep Expectations Realistic (Be familiar with your child's limits, how long can your child wait for something that takes longer than expected? Even I get antsy when waiting takes too long, can you blame them?)
- Plan Ahead (If you know your child gets hungry around a certain time and you are out running errands, you'd better have a snack along!)
- Clearly State Expectations in Advance (We are going into the store to get bread only. Then we are leaving and going home.)
- Offer Limited, Reasonable Choices (No more than two is a good general rule. Would you like to brush your teeth first or put your pajama's on first?)
I use tip #4 EVERY day (especially with my husband). It helps my son feel like he has a little control over his life in a world where he wants to be independent but so much is decided for him. What are your favorite "be prepared" tips for children's behavior?