I was chatting with a friend recently who is struggling with her rather independent 4 year old who is turning getting out the house and to pre-school on time into a nightmare. Sound familiar? I promised to try and help her out and have been wracking my brain (and scouring the internet) for possible solutions. Thinking back to my own experience with pre-schoolers (and observing my 4 children who at 5, 8, 10 and 12 still need plenty of cajoling) I deduced that these blow ups aren’t coming out of nowhere as they initially appeared. They are, in fact, almost always centered on one thing – transitions.
Children generally hate transitions – most specifically leaving the house and going to bed. No matter how smoothly you seem to be going down the road, there is always an incident which sets you back and instantly the stress levels rise, irritability creeps in and a meltdown is only moments away. In response to this new found knowledge, I’ve formulated a plan- to build very specific and consistent routines around these times of transition.
Along the same time I had this epiphany, I also spotted some fantastic routine charts over at I heart organizing. Let me just say before I go any further, this isn’t a reward chart per-SE, but that’s how I thought my friend should use it. We’ve all been all up there on our high horses thinking, “Reward charts? Pfft! Set a good example, keep calm, establish routines early and all will be fine”. Oh how the mighty have fallen. (Or in this case, the woefully over-confident.)
I duly created a few charts of my own, simple to do even for the totally creativeless parents out there (and I include myself in that category) and printed the ‘best’ off for my friend to try ( see below). Fast forward to today and she is chuffed to bits with me as her little one loves his ‘big boy’ chart. She took it to the next very practical level and got it laminated so now Isaac uses a washable pen to make a smiley (or sad) face in the box next to each task. A chart full of smileys and he gets a little treat that evening. Mum is happy and calm, Isaac happy and calm. Mum is so pleased with the concept she is thinking to have a chart for the bedtime routine too (another minefield of stressful transitions). She keeps her morning chart on the fridge at Isaac’s height and I suppose a bedtime one could go on his bedroom door.
I created my chart as a word document, in a simple table format, and then used clipart to find suitable images. The order of tasks are, I know, an individual thing but I would suggest keeping it to 5 or 6 as you don’t want your little one spending too much time drawing smileys ! If you don’t feel confident on the computer then you could always physically cut up the sheets, rearrange as needed, and glue them to some pretty backing paper.
Good Luck x