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Monday, August 13, 2007

setting up expectations

When I was little, around five or six years old, I remember (not fondly) being dragged around to Parry's Corner, Nanganallur, and T.Nagar on the same day, by bus, especially around Navrathri time when my mom goes around town not only to invite friends and family, but to shop for clay dolls for Navrathri Kolu, and some party favors for the guests which included little mirrors and combs and sindoor containers and such.
More on Navarathri and Kolu in another post - it was a festive period I began to enjoy a lot as a teen

I hated going around in the heat, hated not knowing when we will be back home, hated waiting for the bus everywhere, was mad at my mom all the way through for dragging me around when she could have left me home with my books and gone on her own. I constantly nagged her about when we were getting back home, which naturally got on her nerves and she would retort saying, "Well, I'll put you in the bus and get you your ticket, you can go home and I'll finish my outing". Which, of course, would have been fine if I had the sense to agree to it. But, no. I fought that option tooth-and-nail as well...

But, when I was closer to 5th and 6th grade, my mom started setting up expectations for me. She would say, 'here is what I have in mind to finish today, do you think it will be fun for you to come along? maybe we can find some crafts stuff whole-sale for you as well in Parry's Corner'. Now, that certainly helped. I went along. Behaved. Even got into the swing of things and helped my mom pick out stuff.

It is true that as I grew older I was more easy to reason with, and well past the tantrum phase kids go through...

Why am I rambling about this?

Well, since Ana turned two, she has tried to throw a tantrum for nearly everything. Only superhuman patience and developing a fairly thick skin (not to mention a deaf ear) has helped me try to distract her enough to reason with her (as much as you can reason with a 2 year old) and save the peace at home.

However, a couple of months ago, when I was shopping by myself, I saw a very well-behaved 3 or 4 year old who was on the verge of a tantrum because her dad was ready to go and she wasn't. He simply reasoned with her thusly: Sweetie, it is 6 o'clock, we have to get in the car and drive home, then dinner; mom's waiting; so, if we don't hurry out the store now, we will be late for dinner. We will leave in 5 minutes, OK?

And to my surprise, the little girl said, 'OK. 5 minutes, then we can go, dad'.

That's when I got the idea. Not that Ana understands the time intervals. But noting that her tantrums are around the time when I try to transition her activities and she fights for control over what she wants to do, I started setting things up for her like so: Ana, in 5 minutes we get diaper newdd appram*, brush teeth, appram jammies, appram bed time. OK?
newdd=new (in Welsh)
*appram=then/next (in Tamil)

And I leave her alone for 5 minutes, repeating the above statement every minute or so.

Seems to work. By the time I say it the 5th time and call her, she runs to the room to get her diaper changed. While we are getting the new diaper on, I test her: diaper, appram? and she chimes in with 'buss teeth'!

I am pretty sure she doesn't quite understand what "5 minutes" is, but, she happens to be more co-operative and ready to transition these days, as long as we set it up for her.

Many days, when I say: 10 minutes, appram Bath, OK? she screams back with a vehement NO, NO Bath, but, when I persistently keep repeating 10 minutes, appram Bath, OK? she seems to come around in a few minutes - minus her tantrum:-)

Some days, when I begin to sense her restlessness at the store and I am only half way down my list of groceries, I start telling her: 5 minutes, appram milk, appram bread, appram get in the car, appram dan ni'n mynd namma veedu, OK?

And somehow, the tantrum freezes in its tracks as she tries to process it and repeats it, mostly to herself: dan ni'n mynd namma veedu...
dan ni'n mynd=we are going (in Welsh)
namma veedu=our home (in Tamil)

Cross my fingers and hope this lasts!

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At 9:27 PM, Blogger GettingThereNow said...

Good job, mommy! You bet it will last! Kids like structure and also like some "control" over their schedule. I did the same thing with my daughter and she never threw a tantrum. When she grew a little older, I started setting a timer for whatever activity she would be doing (after telling her). She NEVER argued with the timer. When the timer rang, time was up and she was ready for whatever came next.

At 6:07 AM, Blogger Sandeepa(Bong Mom's CookBook/DesiMomzClub) said...

It kind of does :) Also the tantrum is a passing phase, don't worry
My daughter used to do that, and if I insist her to do something or rush her, she opposes.

Putting it across lightly and giving something brighter to look forward to helps.

At 12:27 PM, Blogger Kodi's Mom said...

neat trick! have read abt it, but nicer to read that it actually works.

I've also had sucess with explaining things exactly as they are, whether he understands or not, I think he appreciates (!!) that I talk to him as if he's 5 :)

At 4:52 AM, Blogger Poppins said...

Thats a great tip Sheela ! I shall remember when the tantrums start !

At 7:31 PM, Blogger Tharini said...

Yeah that really really works. Giving these little time which to prepare them. have done it with A too and continue doing it.

You should read..Love and Logic Magic for early Parenting, when you get a chance. Its awesome and funny, designed to put the fun back into parenting.


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