Let’s set our children up for a win!
Let’s teach them how to behave, using positives, rather than having to always correct and punish.
One thing that works is giving your children an idea of what to expect in new situations. Let them know what to expect, who might be there, and how to behave. A well-behaved child, by anyone’s definition, is more pleasant to be around and more content with themselves. Let’s teach our children from a very early age how to be prepared.
Coming to the supermarket, before you take them out of the car seats, let them know two or three things they CAN do. I think a two minute conversation ahead of going in, can honestly save half an hour of whinging and misery.
The Set Up
You: You’re going to get in the trolley. Sam you can sit in the front and Joey, you can sit in the back. I’m going to choose things we need – see I’ve got a list – and I will hand them to you. Joey, I hope you will find a good place to put them until we get to the checkout. If you see anything really interesting show me, and ask if you would like it. But I might say no if it isn’t good for you. That’s my job, to help you make good choices.
Sounds cheesy but there are several elements there.
You are modeling that you have already thought this through. This is a deliberate trip and you have a plan. Knowing that YOU are in control always bring security to little ones.
You are allowing Joey a place to help. You show respect and are training Joey towards responsibility. You are teaching him to make good decisions (about where to put the marmite etc) when it actually doesn’t matter too much if he puts it behind him or in front of him. (This is practising skills without pressure.) Honour his choice and let the consequences speak. That is, if he chooses to put the frozen peas on his tummy, or cover his feet with heavy cans, he will soon see the folly of his choices! The hard part is taking the time to let life teach.
You have set up options and how to deal with them. It is natural that they will want something and that is why marketing is so important in a shop, but you have prepared them with how to ask nicely, and how to deal with disappointment. Consistency here is kinder to them in the long run. Explain it how you will – we are trying not to waste money, or that’s a special treat not for everyday. Letting them learn NO from you will help them accept it from others, as they grow. And again, it reinforces that YOU are capable and confident, and they don’t have to take responsibility for the family shop! Because YOU ARE. You are capable and confident. (Most of the time!)
Finally, there is an end in sight – we go to the checkout. Simple and clear. They will know when this is finished. And so will you – hopefully with everything on your list and a happy family in tow.
Of course The Set Up is not only for the Supermarket trip – but for the Zoo, for visiting Grandparents, plane travel, and for any new event, even re-establishing breakfast behaviour! Deliberately decide what makes for a good day at the Zoo, break it into achievable bits, and let your children know ahead of time, just before you expect them to do it. All behaviour established in The Set Up can effectively be reinforced at The D’Brief. (to follow)