Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Go Ahead Bring Your Kid to the Party But Don't Forget...

Last Sunday we were at a family birthday party and some of the invitees were people that we have not seen in a few years. Since my children were the only youngster invited, they gathered their sandwich bags of Legos and headed to the deck to build spaceships to play out the scenes from Star Wars.

Sidebar- Tristan can tell you all the plots of the Star Wars movies even though some of the movies he has not seen. Peter and I are still trying to figure out how Tristan does this. He can explain in detail all the scenes and characters in all of the six Star Wars movies, but at six he lacks full understanding of the alphabet.

Tristan and Dylan and even Liam were playing while Peter and I chatted about our new pellet stove that we bought earlier in the day (thank goodness, since I had no idea how we were going to afford the $750 a month bill).

Then the sister-in law of the host, turn to me and said "You must not have T.V.?"

Everyone stopped talking and peered at me. "No, we don't have T.V., but everyone (even Liam who is one) has a laptop and they watch their share of movies."

"You are crazy with young kid you don't have a T.V.", my mom's neighbor replied.

Still shocked by the way the boys sat and played by themselves, the sister in-law said "You must home school them."

"Nope, we just have expectations for our children." I responded.

Expectations can be difficult to establish and we think of it more like practicing skills. We expect Tristan, Dylan, and Liam to be able to appropriately socialize as adults, so now we need to practice by not allowing tantrums or fighting and we model conversations.

Of course, Tristan, Dylan, and Liam are still practicing skills which means they have "moments" when one of them (or all of them) melt down and we need to regroup or leave. This actually happened at the beginning of the birthday party last Sunday, Tristan wanted a Lego character that Dylan was playing with and a fight broke out. I scoped up Tristan and asked him how he was going to be able to stay at the party. He wanted a Lego guy!

So, we walked up the street to our parked car and where a Lego guy rested. Tristan got his guy and we walked back to the party ready to begin again.

Expectations, can be difficult to establish with your child and more difficult to follow through with. When you reframe expectations as practice sessions, then your child and your parenting never fails, you are just practicing.

Be ready to regroup or leave. For example if your are practicing socializing without tantrums then prepare your child with the plan for the event.

* Create a social story or talk about your expectations for the event

* Be clear with expectations and then the consequences both good and bad

* Don't get angry if the practice session is not working, but don't give up try again

* Remember athletes don't become Olympians because they practice once, the same with children and skills they need to practice over and over again.

Remember your job is to grow your child into an adult with a happy, meaningful, and productive life and that takes practice.

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