I love going into a family’s home where the evidence of children is apparent.
Recently I stopped in at a home of a large and bustling young family. It happened to be at rest time. The children all had their cozy blankets arranged on the floor relaxing while watching a video – until the doorbell rang, that is. Then the commotion of answering and welcoming and trying to get their message heard first, erupted. All of this was totally joyous and heartwarming to me as a picture of energy, happiness and warmth emanated from within.
But, of course, I’m not that naive to believe that raising a large crew of children – or a small crew of children – even during rest time, is easy or always harmonious.
When there are children close in age in the home, all with similar needs and desires to be met, it can be very tricky. Outbursts, hurt feelings, aggression, temper tantrums are typical behaviors when children are vying for attention and to be noticed.
One suggestion that might be helpful is to choose and rotate the child of the day– which means that particular child automatically goes to the top of the list for all the I want to’s and me firsts and other child-friendly decisions that might be experienced along the way.
The child of the day might get first choice of the book to be read, the DVD to watch, the park to go to , the place to sit, the snack to have, bringing in the mail, one-on-one time with Mom or Dad.
Once this procedure is in place, that child’s name up on the fridge, the others may well be more accepting in anticipation of their own day coming. After all, children might realize, there’s no sense in fighting it because it’s simply “not their day”.
Preschools use this tactic often in their daily routine and the other children respect the position of “authority” the child of the day holds. It fills the child with a sense of importance, recognition and responsibility that will continue to grow in significance.
Having a visual means for the children in the family to know when their turn is coming is helpful. Give the children a small paper plate to decorate as a self-portrait. With a piece of velcro attached to the back and a large poster board with the days of the week posted on it, the children will independently be able to see how many days until their turn, as well as reinforcing whose turn is next.
As adults, we recognize that everything can’t be fair, all the time. Children, however, thrive on their own interpretation of fairness and this just might be worth a try to see if they respond to this cooperative idea of keeping things fair and square.