Inside this issue:
37 Wacky, Wonderful Ways to Get Your
Children to Do What You Want
by Elizabeth Crary, Parent Educator
Advocating for Early Childhood Education
by Lauren Tozzi, teacher, Crown Hill 3-5's
Before winter is gone . . .
Those of you who ski have, of course, already pointed the little ones down the nearest slope, but don't the rest of you let a little inexperience keep you from trying. Snoqualmie Pass is less than an hour's drive from Seattle and if your child can walk, s/he should be able to handle the trails at the Snolqualmie East Summit. If you leave town by 10 a.m., even on a weekend, you should be able to park within a few yards of ski rentals (we mentioned that it was our first time trying cross country and our day was “comped” - trail passes, skies, poles and boots), which is then only a kick and a glide from the trail head. We had a full day and were home in time for a nap.
As spring arrives . . .
South Seattle's Kubota Gardens is a fabulous place to
partake in the wonders of spring. Located on Renton Avenue South
at 55th St. S., this historical and cultural Japanese Garden is a maze
of secret paths that lead to magical vistas of waterfalls, ponds, prayer
stones and shrines. Children particularly like the many quaint bridges
crossing back and forth over the ambling streams. Always a special
place, Kubota Gardens comes particularly alive in spring. Originally
designed by Fujitaro Kubota, the garden was maintained by his family until
purchased by the City of Seattle in 1987.
(Editor's note: The following is excerpted from, Ms.
Crary's book 365 Wacky, Wonderful Ways to Get Your Children to Do What
You Want. The book, published in 1995 by Parenting Press, Inc., includes
specific ideas for dozens of situations including developmental issues,
safety conflicts, trouble between kids, everyday problems, and public parenting.
Sadly, we've only had room for two.)
This is an idea article. It has many ideas you can use with children. You need lots of ideas because every child is different. Sometimes the first idea you try may work. Sometimes the second . . . And other times you may need to try many.
Many people want an idea they can use all the time. There isn't one. An idea that works today may not work next month. This is because children grow and change. When an approach no longer works, try another idea. Keep trying until you find one that works.
Problem: Won't share toys
Know what you want - “I don't want fighting over toys.”
Development - True sharing takes several years to develop. Children go though five stages: 1) Everything is “mine”, 2) “Not mine” is different from mine, 3) “Not mine” things have owners, 4) Owners my lend items, 5) “Ours” is joint ownership. Talk to your child about the level he or she is on and the next level up. Trying to skip a level will only take more time in the long run. Freedom from toy battles takes a long time.
Temperament - Some children easily pick up skills for sharing. Other children seem to need a lot of help from adults.
Lots of ideas:
Make a rule. “If you leave your toys in the family room, anyone may use them.”
Offer a choice. “You can play with the cars together or I will put them away.”
Change things. Buy Brendan a couple of interesting trucks. If Todd wants to use one, he must trade.
Attention. Watch the kids while they play pleasantly. Leave the room if they begin to quarrel.
Praise. Count the number of times Todd shares. Say, “I noticed you let Brendan play with your truck three times this afternoon.”
Reward sharing. Give Todd a ticket each time he gives Brendan a truck. When he has 20 tickets, take him out to get a new truck.
Make your expectations clear. Say, “You guys settle your trouble quietly . . .”
Consequences. “ . . . or I will take the cars away.”
Acknowledge feelings. “You're angry that Brendan was playing with your cars.”
Show the boys how to play together. For example, Todd could lay magazines or newspapers on the floor to use as roads for the cars. Or, Todd could be the policeman and direct the cars.
Give Todd a basket so he can put away the trucks more easily.
Offer a coping tool. Show Todd how to find something to trade with Brendan for the cars. Get something Brendan likes (like a music box) and tell Todd to wind it up and offer to trade it for the cars.
Prevention. Todd can play inside a playpen. That way, if he leaves the toys out, Brendan can't get them.
Put any toys they fight over away for a week's rest. When you bring the toys out, remind the children you want them to play pleasantly.
Avoid using the word “share”. To most children, it mean “give it up.” Say, “take turns” instead.
If things get too frustrating, change the setting. Go for a walk or give the kids a bath.
Take care of yourself. Children's quarrels are less bothersome when you have had a good night's sleep.
Get exercise. When you are less stressed, you are more able to cope with parenting challenges.
Do something you like. When you have some fun, kids' quarreling doesn't bother you as much.
Teach your children problem-solving skills. Talk about what they might do when they want something.
Problem: Dawdles while dressing
Know what you want - “I want Brian to get dressed without my help.”
Development - Most children can dress themselves by age five, but more than half still need reminding.
Temperament - It is harder for children who are easily distracted to focus on dressing.
Lots of ideas:
Give choices. Ask Brian, “Do you want to choose your clothes today or shall I?” (With a younger child you could hold up two sets of clothes. Then ask, “Do you want to wear your striped shirt or your truck shirt?”)
Allow enough time. Some children need 20 or 30 minutes to dress themselves.
Eliminate distractions. Choose a place that will have few distractions. Tell Brian, “You can dress in your room or in the kitchen.” Set a timer for 10 minutes. If Brian is not dressed when it rings, take the clothes into the kitchen so he will not be distracted.
Change things. Buy clothes that are a little big and very easy to put on.
Attention. Check on him occasionally. Only comment if he is dressing, or has put something on since you last checked. Praise effort as well as success. For example, “I see you are really struggling to get your pants on. Keep up the good work.”
Reward success. For example, set a timer for 15 minutes. Tell Brian if he is dressed when the timer rings, you will put a quarter in a jar towards the new truck he wants.
Develop a consequence. Tell Brian, “We leave at 8:30 a.m., dressed or not. If you aren't dressed, you can dress at day care.”
Clear rule. “Dress before you play.” If Brian is playing when you check on him, take away the toy.
Get dressed together. Shirts, pants, socks, shoes, etc.
Make a game. Make a cube (or find a small box). Paste a picture of clothes on each side. Toss the cube. Put on the item that faces up. Keep tossing the cube until he is all dressed.
Acknowledge feelings. “You feel frustrated at keeping to someone else's schedule.”
Prevention. Put all Brian's trucks in a toy box out of the way.
Give some power. Let him have one slow-dressing day.
Let him pretend to be Superman changing clothes. Make a telephone booth from chairs or a corner where “Superman” can change.
Use sweat pants and sweat shirts as pajamas so he doesn't have to change in the morning.
Reward cooperation. Set a timer for 30 minutes. Tell him you will read (or play) with him until it buzzes as soon as he is dressed.
Reward cooperation. Tell him, “I will set the timer for 30 minutes early. If you are dressed when the timer rings, we can have a doughnut on the way.
For more information about 365 Wacky, Wonderful Ways to Get Your
Children to Do What You Want, contact: Parenting Press, Inc., Dept.
404, PO Box 75267, Seattle, WA 98125
school. By the end of second grade, researchers
found that children from preschool classes with good teaching practices
had significantly better language and math skills. Children who had
close relationships with their caregivers/teachers were found to have fewer
behavioral problems, better social skills and higher academic scores than
less fortunate children.
“If America wants its children to be ready for school, it must improve the childcare/preschool experience,” says Richard Clifford of UNC, one of the study's leading authors.
We know that democracy is not a spectator sport, so I urge all co-op parents, teachers, parent educators, community college administrators and instructors to raise your voices! Share your stories and experiences in the co-op system to educate our elected officials (city, county, state and federal) and urge them to invest in early childhood education.
We are doing the work that matters - all of us. We are natural allies, are we not?
Every child deserves a healthy start. Parents and families deserve and need support. Caregivers and teachers deserve a livable wage. Parents need economic and assistance incentives and affordability. All deserve respect.
We need sound public policy and a broader understanding and commitment to early education. The U.S. is the last industrialized nation without a comprehensive childcare system, this despite being the richest country in the world. Problems need solutions and there are several around the country - some right here in Washington State. For instance, a pilot project to relieve teacher turnover and support training using $4 million in TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) monies (supported by Governor Gary Locke) to put directly into teachers' salaries in 100 centers around the state; a wage and career ladder adopted and passed by the King County Council to support the Childcare Union (SEIU/District 925). Another solution is long-term public funding for early education - with support from the business community.
There are many organizations that are working to promote a better system of quality early care and learning - in concert with parents, teachers and the childcare advocacy community. Let's work together!
For more information, contact:
Mary Fickes (Crown Hill co-op parent and advocate with ESD Head Start and the Children's Initiative Parent Council: (206) 439-6910 ext. 4004
The Center for the Childcare Workforce (CCW): 1-800 UR WORTHY
The Childcare Union: (206) 328-7275
Children's Alliance: (206) 324-0340
The Economic Opportunity Institute: (206) 694-6797
Worthy Wages Task Force: (206) 328-7354
Legislative Hotline (Olympia): 1-800-562-6000
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my views and passions. I'll end the column with one of my favorite quotes by James Baldwin: “For these are our children; we will pay for or profit by whatever they become.” And Coretta Scott King: “When aroused, the American conscience is a powerful force for reform.”