Pre-School Press(Vol 5, Issue 2) - Ms Heather.
One of the most frustrating moments in parenting comes when your child does not respond to you. For example, pretend your child is playing with their toys. You say, "It is time for dinner. Come to the table." But your child does not move. He pretends not to hear you. So you get louder and say, "Come to the table now!" But your child still does not respond. You may think your child is misbehaving. While that may be true, there is something else that is happening too. When children start doing something they enjoy, they have a difficult time stopping. We want them to stop when we say stop, but just because they don't does not mean that they are misbehaving. They just need time to change what they are doing, they take longer than we do to slow down and stop.
As their parent, it is your role to help with this process. For example, you can give them a 'warning' that a transition is coming. "Dinner will be ready soon. You only have a few more minutes to play". Then, wait a few more minutes and say again, "It's almost time to be finished with your blocks". Maybe even setting a timer to alert your child of the transition would be helpful. Remember that your child cannot tell time and really cannot understand the passage of time, so using cues to alert them is helpful.
One of the best things you can do to acomplish your objective(in this case having them come to dinner when you call) is giving them choices. They feel that they are still making the decision, not recognizing that you are the one that provided the choices, all of which are acceptable choices to you! Going back to the dinner example; 'It's time for dinner'. (You have stated the expected behavior). Do you want to have your blue plate or your yellow one? (You have drawn their attention to the fact that it's time for dinner and have given them some control and interest over the situation by presenting them with a choice).
Some tips on giving choices.
1. Give only two choices at a time; Young children are not ready for many choices and may get confused or overwhelmed with more than two options.
2. The choices you offer should be OK with you; Do not give the choice of oatmeal or pancakes if you do not want to make pancakes!
3. Do not make everything a choice; Some things should not be negotiable and presenting everything as a choice can lead to control issues later.
Remember, perenting is also about teaching and you are your child's first teacher!
Thank you Ms Heather!