Friday, August 3, 2012

5 Things that Work: Part 3

Part three of:

Five Things that Work (right now) for Parenting (my) Two-and-a-Half-Year-Old
Read parts one and two here

3. The timer. 

New moms, a word of advice (one learned from suffering the consequences of NOT doing this many times), if at all possible, give your toddler a heads up before you spring a change of plans on them.  Let's say you are at the park.  She is happily playing in the sand and you look at your watch and realize it is getting close to nap time so you say, "Time to go!"  Inevitably you will be met by resistance, arguing or worse - a full-fledged tantrum.  Now rewind back to when you noticed the time and try this, "Two more minutes, then we are going home!"  This gives your toddler (who desperately wants to have control over her world) a warning that a change is coming.  She can finish what she's doing, she can go down the slide one more time, she can choose how she wants to use her precious two minutes.  And when the two minutes is up (by the way, two minutes can be completely relative if you like - it's just the warning that helps) you say, "Okay! Time to go!"  Now, it's not fool-proof.  She might still choose to throw a fit, but at least you didn't spring it on her which would have almost guaranteed the fit.  

An added trick to this plan which I find particularly effective, is to implement the timer.  This was a stroke of genius I had a few weeks ago at Target (I usually let Lila play in the toy aisle for a few minutes if she has obeyed me while I got my shopping done - a little extra motivation for her to behave).  She was sort of getting to the point where the two minute warning didn't really avert the fit that came when I followed the warning with "time to go!" a few minutes later.  So one day I said, "Okay, we're going to set Mommy's timer.  When the timer goes off, it will be time to go."  I set the timer on my phone for two minutes, let her push the button to have it start, and then she got to play.  When the timer went off, I let her slide the button to turn it off and said, "Okay, the timer says it's time to go!"  And here's the beautiful part: she said, "Okay!"  No argument.  No fit.  I think the magic is in the fact that she gets to turn it off and on and that it's not me calling the shots.  The timer said it was time to go.  It's the timer's fault.  Mean ol' timer!
the timer is heartless when it comes to the whining of little girls


Katy said...

Love the timer!! Working in daycare as long as I did, I totally learned to use to 2-5 min warning! It does work 85% of the time! :)

Andy and Kristen said...

Found you through Saying Yes to Adoption's Blog! We're with CHI too, #77! Excited to follow your journey as well :)