Learning To Stand In Line

There’s nothing like a trip to an amusement park to show you what parts of parenting you’re not-quite-so-good-at yet. We went to Sesame Place this weekend, just me and the kids, since E’s schedule is preventing him from doing anything besides stare at a light on a dashboard and sometimes the back of his eyelids. I’m not alone with the kids (I’m not that crazy) but Kim has two kids of her own to chase around. I think that might make both of us a little more than nuts.

Despite the fact that it is hot and crowded and kind of totally crazy Evan is having such an amazing time I couldn’t say no when he asked for a second day in the park. BUT. Only if he could listen to Mommy, since it is Not Cool to run away into a crowd of people only to fall flat on your face on the pavement. No. It is Not Cool at all.

We have a serious listening to mommy problem in our house (and out of our house, which is definitely worse). I’ve realized over the past two days that I don’t really know how to deal with the not listening in a constructive way. I’m really good at hissing angrily, making frowny faces, threatening and yelling. Not exactly the cornerstones of positive parenting – and also not very effective. “Not very effective”, as in, I’m screaming “Evan! Get back here or you’re going to get a time out!” while he’s running away and smiling and knowing I’ve got nothin’ on him. Three year old are smart.

One of the reasons I decided to put him in preschool this year is because he needs to work on his basic direction-following skills. Waiting his turn, standing in line, all the stuff I’m struggling to teach him on my own but are super important in life. We don’t encounter a lot of line-waiting in our day to day routine (amusement parks not included) and I’m hoping a little organization and structure can point us in the right direction. I’m also hoping his teacher will share some of her secrets with me.

In the mean time, I’ve turned to the internet for advice. When I stumbled across this post on giving directions, getting results on the Kid Pointz website tonight, I slapped myself in the forehead. It’s like someone has been listening to every single thing I do with Evan – give a list, saying “be good”, asking if he wants to do stuff – and said “DON’T DO THAT”. I need to remember to tell instead of ask, be kind, and to follow through. Following through is the worst, whether it’s leaving someplace fun or just ignoring a behavior I don’t want to reinforce. The worst.

The entire Kid Pointz website is a great place to get help with positive parenting, advice on how to use time-outs effectively, even printable chore charts (which we are soooo printing out and starting first thing tomorrow). They also have a point tracking system both online and in an iPhone app – free right now, so go download it – for a fancier, more tech-savvy kid. I know Evan loves anything that involves my iPhone.

It’s hard to admit I’m not great at positive parenting. I don’t want to be the mom who’s always using her angry voice or can’t keep it together in public or whose kid falls on his face and cries in front of hundreds of people. But I’m working on it and I’m excited for what a positive influence positive parenting can have on all of us.

This post is my entry into the Kids Pointz blogger contest. I was compensated for my time but all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.

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6 Responses to “Learning To Stand In Line”

  1. cakeburnette says:

    I know tons of people will HATE this, but I used one of those teddybear ‘leash’ things when Austin was Evan’s age. Boys who have a tough time with impulse control can be a dangerous thing, and I don’t mean falling-on-your-face-on-the-concrete-dangerous either. My two are 15 months apart, and my husband was in the AF, so I know how hard it is to single parent when you aren’t actually single and to have to wrangle two small people in public alone. So, it was leash him to me, or have him run away and I couldn’t get to him fast enough and him get run over or stolen by a psychopath.

    He’s 15 now. He’s learning to drive, makes all A’s, plays 3 sports (made a tackle Fri night in his first varsity game) and he doesn’t remember the leash at all.

  2. Amy says:

    I had many of the same thoughts about getting Spencer to listen when we put him in preschool. It was even the number one thing we put on the what do you want to him learn this year form. And it worked! Except that it made him good at listening to authority figures (which is good, don’t get me wrong) and made no difference in the whole listening to mommy thing. Toddlers are evil.

  3. raincheckmom says:

    Age three is the worst year ever…until they reach age 14. Three was way worse than age 2. Whoever named age two as terrible was off by a year…

  4. Brigid Keely says:

    “Be good” is one of the worst instructions you can give to a child. It’s so vague! What do you mean by “good?” It’s different all the time! I’m glad you found some specific guidelines that are working for you. :)

    If you haven’t read it already, you might find the book “Nurture Shock” to be helpful. Among the things the authors discuss is how to give direct, specific praise and reinforcement… something that I think goes hand in hand with “be good” type admonishments.

    I also want to remind you that kids treat different people different ways. If Evan learns how to stand in line etc at school he might still act up around you because he knows he can get away with it. Niko behaves very differently at home with me, and with his baba in her home. Two examples: he helps HER clean up, but throws his stuff around at our place; he runs away from HER outside, he doesn’t run away from me. So he’ll test you and see what he can run get away with, so it might be helpful to sit in on a class or two (or volunteer as a room helper) or ask the teacher(s) what their standards and methods are. Then you can be consistent at home.

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