Wednesday, March 3, 2010

If You've Been Procrastinating...

making a pictorial schedule for your preschooler, don't wait, do it now now now. I've had this at the back of my mind for probably a year, but never got around to doing it until last week, after the most horrible day of parenting ever. I literally spent most of the day in tears, feeling like I was totally failing my 5 year old, who was totally out of control. Nothing I did or said could calm her down, she was being disrespectful, throwing things, calling me names, etc...and I just plunked myself down in the hallway and thought "There is no way I can have her home with me for another year. She's going to have to go to kindergarden just so I can survive, and her last precious months at home are going to be spent fighting." It made me think of the word "discouraged" could have put a picture of me next to the word in the dictionary and no definition would have been needed. I felt as if I had truly been courage had been completely stripped from me and I was terrified of what the next day, week, year would hold...

That night after she was in bed, I went online to look for resources and ideas for parenting a strong-willed child. I kept coming across the idea of making a pictorial schedule for their day, and being willing to try almost anything, decided to finally make one. The idea is that one reason or trigger for a strong-willed child is a feeling of lack of control over their day. When they have no idea what's coming next, or what their day will look like, they get very unsettled and emotional. I was skeptical, but figured, why not try it? I made a simple routine in Word, one for each of my girls since the younger one naps and the older doesn't. I used clip art to depict the activities, and wrote the words next to the pictures to aid in reading skills. Our schedule is very minimal, mostly without times, just a concrete order of our day. The next morning I taped the schedules up and showed Amelia how to use hers. It has been an absolute lifesaver. Every day she checks the schedule several times and lets me know what's supposed to come next. If she wants a snack but it's not "snack time" yet, I direct her to the schedule. She can see that it's not "snack time", but that after we finish "play time" she will get a snack. This has saved us so many fits, as she can see when "snack time" will be, and know that it is coming. We've also been able to get through many days in a row of preschool curriculum, whereas in the past three months we'd only made it through 6 or 7 days total.

Now bear in mind, I don't think this is an end-all solution. We still have our bad moments, and I know I'll still have days where I tear my hair out, but at least it's not every. single. day. There are days when I'm less consistent with the routine and the day falls apart a little. And most importantly, I paired our new routine with a lot of time on my knees (or in the tub, or lying in bed)in prayer for Amelia's heart and for wisdom and patience for myself.

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