During an outing, observation, detective and quick thinking skills are essential. Pay attention to your children’s cues that they are going “off-track”. They may become inflexible, irritable, combative or uncooperative. Rather than forcing compliance to “get with the program” you will be more effective and everyone happier if you take time to stop and reflect. What are they really asking for or needing with this behavior? Do they need rest, food, a limit set with listening, to run around outside for a while or maybe it’s time to leave? With practice and continual self-reflection, you will become effective in predicting the storms, riding them out and creating the finishing touch of a Rainbow Memory.
Here is a partial checklist of preparations and parenting knowledge which are important for creating a successful outing. The more “Yeses”, the brighter your rainbow will glow.
¨ Did you buy entrance tickets ahead of time?
¨ Have you determined the best time to go based on your children’s ages and needs for sleep and food?
¨ Are both you and your children rested?
¨ Would it be beneficial to take a “father’s helper” along with you?
¨ Have you allowed enough time to get ready so no one feels rushed or upset?
¨ Have you packed healthy snacks, drinks or lunch?
¨ Do you know fun traveling games that will build an atmosphere of fun and cooperation during the trip?
¨ Have you clearly and respectfully explained the day’s routine and stated realistic expectations for behavior?
¨ Do your children know how you will discipline, not punish, them if they are having a hard time controlling themselves and following the rules?
During the outing:
¨ Can you turn problem times into problem solving times?
¨ Are you able to listen to upset feelings without getting upset yourself?
¨ Can you be flexible when your plans don’t seem to be working out and make appropriate changes?
¨ Can you view upsets as a natural part of the day?
¨ Can you create laughter with your children?
¨ Can you “read” your children so you know when they need a break, food or possible outside unstructured play?
¨ Can you monitor your energy and patience levels and avert your potential “blow-ups”?
¨ Will you allow time and energy for a possible “melt down” and then focus on the good times?
Even with all your planning and good intentions, you will probably experience some difficult times. Just accept these hard times and enjoy the wonderful connected times. They make the good times shine even brighter.
©2013 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Certified Parent Educator since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children of all ages. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking and private parenting coaching sessions. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and writes the Middle School Mom column for the Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. She works with parents of 4 – 25 year-old children. Contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, cynthia@bridges2understanding,com, or 650. 679.8138 to learn more about creating the relationship you want with your children.