Do you find that often your child seems to have more than enough energy to wear you out within minutes? They seem to want your attention constantly and expect you to fill their day with sunshine and rainbows? But, you feel more like getting in bed and covering your head with a blanket – and just getting some more sleep? Do you then find yourself trying to fill their time with activities, games and distractions only to realize the demand is never ending? Then, when it is bedtime, they want nothing to do with it?
A child who has a lot of energy and expects your attention constantly can be taxing on anyone. Especially a mom who knows this is just one 24 hour period, and there are endless ones ahead. This time, we are going to talk about how to teach your child to entertain themselves and to be content, calm and happy… and go to bed willingly on time! No more need to feel like you have to constantly keep them occupied. You will have time to get your work done around the home AND have fun time with your children without feeling completely drained. AND, you will be able to put them to bed without the worry of them constantly getting up. Last time we talked about BEING the MOM. Taking charge. It’s really important that your children have the understanding of the three main points that your children must know for sure that we covered in “BE the MOM: How to Take Charge.” Those points are that they must know:
They are loved.
You know what is best for them.
You WILL assert your authority to make sure what is best for them is done.
Since we didn’t cover this last time, I also want to say… tell them you love them… often. Show them by your calm, patient attitude and your interest when they come to tell you something. NEVER speak as though you wish they were not around or give any indication that you don’t like being a mom to them. They must know they are loved. If you have made a mistake in this area, let them know you are sorry if you ever said anything that made them feel unloved and that you are SO proud and happy to be their mom. This is very important. Find things to compliment them about and be sincere.
Second, have confidence in yourself as a mother. YOU were given these children by GOD. He planned for them to be in your care and you have the skills and the ability to raise them. You can do it! And, you can reap the rewards of well-behaved and accomplished children. Third, remember that no matter what, every action you take with your children should be in their best interest. You need to be willing to go through the tough times to get to the best for them. That means doing what is best regardless of momentary circumstances. Being the mature parent as we discussed in “BE the MOM; How to Take Charge.”
In order to train your children to occupy their own time, start by having a routine or a schedule. This can begin when they are just infants. Suffice to say, having a routine is very important in a child’s feeling of security and order in their lives. And a schedule is important in yours! A routine gives the child the knowledge of what’s coming. They feel empowered and confident in themselves and happy to go along with the program because they are a part of it. Ready for the next stage of the day! They also recognize that there will be time to play, eat, sleep, wash, and be with Mommy. This knowledge helps them become more patient and less anxious and demanding. Think about the mind of the child. They actually have no power at all to meet their own needs. They are at your mercy for everything. If they are unable to communicate their needs, and they do not know when they will be taken care of, they will be more fussy and more easily agitated. Yet, if they are aware that play time is coming, food is coming, changing diaper time is coming, sleep time is coming… they are not worried or anxious… and therefore they feel secure. Security produces a calmer and more easily compliant child. I have just explained why a routine is important for a child. But a schedule is important for you --- as long as you can be a little flexible. Clearly, we live in a world that depends upon time. We may need to be to a doctor appointment, get to church, a date with our husband, or a class for moms!!! LOL. A schedule helps us get everything done we need to do, makes us feel more confident that we have taken care of all the child’s needs, and gets us there on time…. Or at least close! In addition to a schedule, a time for each child to be alone and entertain themselves should be a normal part of the day. Even if they have siblings, they should have alone time to learn to entertain themselves. This is good training and helps them understand they do not need to be dependent on others for their happiness. They know when it is coming and they expect not to bother you during this time. It’s a good idea to have a special blanket they sit on with toys just for this occasion. Set a timer and tell them when the timer goes off, if they have stayed on the blanket and played nicely by themselves, they will get a special treat. Have a graham cracker or a fruit they especially like, or even a cookie for them after the timer goes off. This is something that happens daily and they will understand and expect to do it after it becomes routine. Start off with a 5 minute timer and increase it each day by just a little. Work up to a 30 minute time on the blanket.
Give them lots of praise for their self-control when they stay on the blanket. Use the word, “self-control” and let them know that this is a great accomplishment in their life! You can use that word a lot during their entire growing up years – and it is a gem! So what does a good schedule/routine look like? Here is an example of what I found worked well for me when my children were infants and toddlers.
6:00 am -- Wake and change, feed, burp baby (cozy cuddle time!) 6:45 am – Make breakfast for family 7:30 am – Clean up kitchen, start laundry