Friday, September 05, 2008

Help For Everyday Toddler Battles

I go through battles with my three year old on a daily basis. It used to be far worse, when I didn't understand where this rebellion over every minor detail came from. I mean, does it really matter that much if I hand over her snack before her juice?

The hardest part of the day for us is morning, when Cordy wants nothing to do with getting ready for school. Despite loving school, every day begins with, "I don't want to go to school!" She drags through each task of the morning, unwilling to move at anything faster than a slug's pace.

It's because of this that the books Ready for the Day and Ready for Bed are now regular reads at our house. These books from the ParentSmart/KidHappy series feature tales of getting through these two difficult transitions at the beginning and end of the day. They're like a lesson for both me and Cordy in parent/child relationships.

Ready for the Day tells the story of a little girl who at first is resistant to getting ready for school. But her dad uses several different techniques to encourage her to get ready, and as a reward they have time to play before going to school. Dad gives her choices when getting ready, like asking which of two outfits she wants to wear. He also expresses understanding of how she feels, and points out when she uses her manners or otherwise behaves appropriately.

I can vouch for the technique of providing choices. Once I learned how to do this, it cut our battles down by half. Given a choice between two things or activities, Cordy feels in control and it often disarms her stubbornness. I just have to be careful not to give her too many choices, or she feels overwhelmed.

In Ready for Bed, a mother and her son go through all of the bedtime activities. The boy is grumpy and doesn't want to comply, but his mom makes it fun by doing many of the same techniques in the other book. She offers him a choice of which PJs he wants to wear, sympathizes when he doesn't want to get out of the bath, and encourages him when he remembers his manners. Bedtime ends up being fun, without tantrums and resistance.

The illustrations in these two books are beautiful and lively. The action is drawn well and the characters' feelings can easily be determined by looking at their faces. I'm also glad to see diversity in these books, both in ethnicity and including a dad in one book. I haven't seen many picture books that feature a dad in a primary care role.

Cordy really enjoys both books, too. She celebrates each accomplishment along with the young characters, and when a choice comes up in the story, she tries to make the choice as well. I think that seeing the positive interactions modeled by the parent and child in each book has made her think more about her own actions. The dialogue does seem a little forced at times, but otherwise it flows naturally and could be words spoken by a parent and child. It's been a good refresher for me, too - I'm consciously trying to offer more choices and encourage her when she does good things, rather than focus on the negative.

These books also provide a script for how early morning and bedtime should run, and can provide a sense of security for a child. I often remind Cordy of the little girl in the story, asking her, "What did she do next to get ready for school?" It's helping her remember which tasks need to be accomplished each morning.

Thanks to Parent Bloggers Network for this review - you can read more reviews of Ready for the Day and Ready for Bed at their blog!


Karen of Sillymonkeez said...

Great review Christina!

You’ve been given an award!

janny226 said...

My son is on the autistic spectrum and giving him choices works well. He also fights getting dressed in the am and getting ready for bed in the pm. He'd much rather just stay in his pj's all day! That clothing transition is tough for him.

Anonymous said...

thank you thank you for the heads up on these books. My daughter is an ogar in the mornings and it's a constant battle to get her out of the door. I'll be heading right out tonight to get these!