On our recent trip back from New York after Thanksgiving, my husband and I were reminiscing, reliving, and, I’ll admit it squirming, about the trip. We mentally prepared ourselves that it would be a few days of being out of our comfort zone, and made the provisions of bringing everything we thought our son needed to feel comfortable. We expected our young son to have some varied behavior since our schedule would be a bit erratic. We brought his favorite toys, books, snacks, as well as some new ones, bringing as much of “home” as we could pack in the car. We talked about who we were going to see throughout the weekend, where we would be staying, activities we would be doing. We had back up plans for our back up plans.
But no matter how much planning we did, there were some difficult times for us to get through. For instance, after checking in and setting up our hotel room, we were ready to go explore outside. Our son was not, and after every five minute warning, negotiation, and bribe we still ended up carrying a screaming almost 2 ½ year old out the door. And the time when we were eating dinner and my son only wanted to be anywhere else but in the high chair. We eat out all the time, why should it be different today?
It turns out that my expectations were just not realistic or developmentally appropriate for a child his age. According to a recent, comprehensive research study conducted by ZERO TO THREE and the BENZOS FAMILY FOUNDATION, there is an expectation gap when it comes to understanding children’s capabilities.
- 36% of parents surveyed said that children under the age of 2 have enough impulse control to resist the desire to do something forbidden, and 56% said this happens before the age of 3. In fact, most children are not able to master this until between 3 ½ to 4 years old.
- 47% of parents want to learn more about how and when children develop self-control. 42% want to know more about what skills to expect at different ages.
In school and at home we follow routines that are repeated and predictable to provide a foundation for the daily tasks in our lives. The familiar pattern of routines helps children know what to expect and when to expect it. Even when we follow routines there are times when rituals need to be added to make things less stressful. Rituals are special practices that help a child accept aspects of a routine by adding actions to help navigate emotionally important transitions. For instance, when taking medicine we sing the ABC song because at the end of the song is when the medicine must go down. Rituals support emotional self-regulation by offering children a way to manage their emotions. While these rituals change as children grow, the routine is consistent and support the “family plan” for everyone.
Please join me on THURSDAY DECEMBER 8TH AT 9AM in Leibovitch (the room next to the TCEE elevator) for a conversation about how to use the language from our school’s social-emotional curriculum at home about how we can help and support each other. How can we both adjust our expectations and scaffold children through using rituals and routines? We are thrilled that the new Finagle-a-Bagel Test Kitchen will be providing coffee and breakfast treats. Please feel free to bring younger siblings.