Thursday, November 23, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Alter approach in getting 4-year-old to cooperate in the morning

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Alter approach in getting child to cooperate in the morning

Q: I have a 4-year-old, and our downfall is getting out the door in the morning. It is just so hard to get her moving, and she doesn't care if we are late for school and work. It's not a motivator for her.

I am not a big fan of rewards like a star chart/toy if you behave. I have tried to impress on her that we need to work together, and if you don't help out, privileges will be taken away. Some days it works, other days it doesn't. Is this just the price of being a busy family with too little time in the morning?

Morning Rush

A: You're not a fan of rewards, so you use punishment (privilege-docking) instead? That doesn't make sense to me, because I can't imagine you'd want others to punish you for mistakes instead of giving positive reinforcement (PR) for your accomplishments — and you're an adult. A 4-year-old runs on and needs that approval so much more.

It can't be hollow praise, of course — my pre-emptive strike against the self-esteem eye-rollers — but it can include motivational PR, achievement-based PR and tangible rewards more meaningful than a sticker.

It would take me a long time to type out the various approaches people use effectively, so I'll suggest that you do one of two things:

1. Read a how-to book on working at a child's level versus your own. The two recommended most often, in my experience, are How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk (Faber, Mazlish) and Parenting With Love and Logic (Cline, Fay).

2. Take some personal leave time and sit in on your daughter's school day. Teachers of young kids have some basic, remarkably effective techniques to keep the room from descending into chaos. Learning from the teacher will have the added benefit of bringing consistency to home and school.

Whichever you choose, also tweak your perspective and priorities. You need to get to work on time, yes, and mornings are difficult for most parents of small kids. However, it's hard to think of a 4-year-old who would care about getting anywhere "on time"; time is conceptual and small children are ruthless pragmatists. I suspect you'll find a solution when you learn to speak her language, instead of wanting/needing/expecting her to learn yours.

Plans before going to wedding aren't anyone's business

Q: My cousin is getting married in a city about six hours from my home. My boyfriend went to undergrad there and has a few friends in the area. Our plan is to make a long weekend out of it and see his friends on Friday and attend the wedding on Saturday. My mother told me it was rude to see entirely different groups of people when in town for a wedding; that if we were planning to arrive early we should be spending the time with my family. Is our plan rude?

Wedding Weekend

A: Your mom is working from a playbook I've never seen — unless it's the "You Need to Subscribe to My View of How the World Should Run" playbook. That one is pretty common.

If you aren't blowing off a rehearsal dinner, then I don't see how it's anyone's business where you spend your Friday.

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