We have a lovely morning routine.
Get up, eat breakfast together, go for a walk.
I pack the boys into the double stroller, still in their jammies, and we’d be off. We usually travel the same route, taking us past a construction zone so my toddler can drool over all the heavy machinery.
“Go see diggers! Go see diggers, mommy!”
It was awesome. I got to enjoy a bit of exercise while the kids happily rode along.
Last week, just as I was finishing strapping the baby into the stroller, my toddler announced, “Walk! Walk! Walk!”
First thought – It’s 8:30. Everyone walking to school is going to see that he is still in his jammies
Second thought – There is NO WAY he is going to walk beside me without running away or bolting on the road
I did a quick mental scan of the different parenting techniques I’ve been working on. I remember reading in one of Alyson Schafer’s books the idea of freedoms and responsibilities. If my toddler wanted the freedom to walk beside me, he needed to show that he was responsible enough to do so.
I decided to go for it. Jammies and all.
I quickly laid some ground rules before leaving the garage:
- If you want to walk you need to stay beside mommy
- When we walk we stay on the sidewalk
- When we cross the street we need to hold hands
Everything started smoothly. He happily held my hand as we crossed the street and walked right beside me once we got on the sidewalk. He loved waving at everyone. I could tell he enjoyed walking beside me, just like the ‘big kids’ walking with their parents.
After about a block he started getting antsy and was ready to bolt, already having some difficulty managing his responsibilities.
I casually repeated the ground rules. “When you walk you need to stay beside me. Would you like to continue walking beside me? Or would you prefer to ride in the stroller?”
He settled down and continued walking beside me.
For about a minute.
When he started to make his move to run, I simply said, “I see you’ve chosen to ride in the stroller.”
He had a mini-freak out as I buckled him in. Nothing too crazy, but he definitely let me know he WAS NOT happy about being demoted to the stroller.
This is when I usually feel the urge to add a little ‘extra’:
“Well I TOLD you this would happen!”
“If you wouldn’t have run away then you could still be walking beside me!””
“That’s what you get for running away!”
This time I switched up my usual naggingItoldyousos with “Oh man. You are so disappointed! Do you want to try again tomorrow?”
Cue: end crying.
My toddler managed a quiet, “Yeah…” as he calmed himself down.
Done. Tantrum over.
Another ‘Holy smokes these techniques REALLY work’ moment.
Image Credit: Serge Melki