Authors Laura Hunter and Jennifer Walker of “Moms on Call” liken our task of leading children (and creating a secure atmosphere for them) to traveling on a cruise ship:
I want to be free to enjoy the ride and take advantage of all the fun activities, but I cannot do that if I am the one in charge of steering, mapping out the route, navigating the storm or deciding which way to turn every four minutes. I want a captain to do that so I do not have to worry about it. I want to have someone dependable, that I trust to be taking care of all that; someone who has been on the water before and knows the ship inside and out. That is what the [child] wants. Steer the ship so they can enjoy the ride!
Redemptive Educators know that one of the best gifts they can give to the children they lead is the security that comes from knowing “My teacher is in charge” or “My mom will take of ‘all that'” or “The grown-ups in my life are ‘steering the ship’ – all I have to do is go with the flow and I’ll have a great time on ‘the cruise’!”
There’s only so much time and energy in a given day. Don’t let most of that time and energy go – EVERYDAY! – to tussles about getting into car seats, or long drawn-out persuasions about eating peas, or negotiating naps, or bribery for basic courtesy. Daily patterns, tasks, and necessities are worth teaching explicitly and supporting consistently. How get ready to go outdoors – Job One:potty-break – Job Two: water bottles – Job Three:coats/mittens/boots, then wait-for-me-on-the-front-steps.
It is worth you time (and theirs) to teach the process, the sequence, and what makes for “success” – and to KEEP training for that – to KEEP consistent in your requirement of it – and then: Have fun! Get out there and stomp in some puddles!
Teach kids that “Good things happen to Listeners!” Call out: “Wow – there goes a Listener! Susie got right down to business getting her boots on! Thank you, Susie! Freddy’s already got his mittens on! Wowzer!” Soon, you’ll have children running to do “Job One” and “Job Two,” responding swiftly to your calls-to-action, and thriving in the atmosphere of fun and celebration that focuses on the adventure ahead, NOT on power struggles over potty-breaks.
If you have a laggard, ask the child: What’s your job? Then either affirm her answer and say, “YES! Can you do it? Great! GO!” (or just give her a smile and a thumbs-up) OR restate the Job exactly as you did the first time: “Job One: potty break . . .” etc.
Steer the ship, folks. You’ve got a lot of passengers on the cruise ship and you’re trying to get them places!