These instructions, I have often heard them and I have often said them myself. The problem with them is that they don't mean anything to a child.
But what does it mean to be "wise" for a 4 year old mini? Not much, but it can mean so many things at the same time! It is unclear and it depends on the education the child received at home. So, from one family to the next, being wise can look like pretty much anything! The same goes for the instructions mentioned above. They vary from family to family and sometimes from parent to parent. In this article, I suggest you see how to clarify the instructions by focusing on observable behaviors. We thus remain in a perspective of positive education and we can lead our child to improve and become more independent. One small step at a time! First of all, you can't work everything at the same time! We start with one goal. We're going to focus on it and put a lot of emphasis on it. It can be something that we want to get our child to do (ex: share, be of service, do a task) or it can be problematic behavior that we want to see disappear (ex: crisis at the time of sleep, refusal to collaborate when brushing teeth). If the child is old enough, we can ask him to think about what he would like to improve. Also, it must be observable. For example, with us in the morning, it was very difficult. My big one hung around the table at lunch. It was taking a long time to get dressed. I repeated the instructions several times. I ended up getting mad or helping her because we were going to be late. To remedy the situation, we put in place little tricks. Tip # 1 : Use visual tools.
We opted for the Belles Combines morning routine bracelet. It is simple and efficient! He knows what he has to do and can refer to it for himself.
We then reviewed our instructions:
The instruction: "After lunch, you get dressed quickly and alone."
Observable behavior: he dresses without help and quickly.
Everything was fine, he now dressed alone following the morning routine, but he still lacked speed. Tip # 2 : In addition to being observable, a behavior can be defined over time.
We put a timer on it.
We reviewed the instructions again:
The instruction: "After lunch, you dress alone and before the Timer rings. You have 5 minutes. "
It made a huge difference. He does what is asked quickly and enjoys doing it. It’s like a game or a mission. Choose your battles! At the start, we also had the instruction “Be nice”. Another great deal that is not super clear! Rather than asking my children to be nice, I ask them:
to share with others;
to be of service without my having to ask;
to tidy up and do a task by themselves.
I didn't ask for everything at the same time! One small request at a time! Reward, rather than take back. Instead of repeating over and over and taking over when the child is not doing the right thing, try to go positive! Reward each time the child performs the expected behavior until it has become automatic. With the General store, it’s done by itself and it’s easy to manage. Whenever my boy helped his brother - A token! Whenever he does his homework without whining - A token! Whenever he lends a toy or accepts that his brother plays with him - A token! Whenever my mini makes a good start (without crisis) for daycare - A token! Every time he puts on his pajamas and goes to bed without fussing - a token! It may seem like a lot of rewards, but by conditioning it, the child is motivated to do the behavior on their own without having to be made to think about it. When the expected behavior is more natural, we can reduce the frequency of rewards and go for it with verbal reinforcement. We congratulate him, we thank him. We can also, at supper time, highlight the good thing to family members:
Honey, you know what? This morning, I noticed that our big one helped his brother with his lunch. It was really very nice.
Social reinforcement has far more weight in the end than a reward. The token is just one way to encourage behavior until it is acquired. Also, with us, we like to bet on experiences rather than gifts or surprises. This is why our General Store is associated with the Coupons privileges of the Beautiful Combines. I select a few and place them in the part I think is appropriate. As examples, here's what my kids can get: With 10 tokens,
A voucher for a 2e history before bedtime;
A voucher for choosing the menu for the next supper.
With 25 tokens, my children can sometimes buy:
A voucher for a picnic in the living room;
A voucher for a 20 minute sleep repeller.
I alternate the Privilege Coupons according to my preferences and the feasibility of the moment. If we are very busy on a weekend, I will not give the opportunity to invite a friend or eat out! We remain realistic with the rewards! But it gives a nice alternative to the weeks when you have a less stocked General Store or if you want to reduce the purchases of surprises. I hope these few little ideas will inspire you to bet more on observable behaviors to allow your child to understand your expectations and have a slightly sweeter daily life ...