One of the major things you need to build into your child as you think about kindergarten readiness is self-management or self-control. According to the study done by our 3 Arizona public universities, self-management is one of the biggies.
When our children grow up and move into the world on their own, we want them to be capable, compassionate, and competent. Self-control will play a big part in that.
When our children go off to kindergarten, we want to know they will refrain from bopping someone on the head if they take a toy away, wait to use the bathroom when they are actually IN the bathroom, and keep their opinions about the way the teacher smells to themselves.
So, how do we get them there?
One of the most important things to do is to build trust in your child that it is okay for you to be away. Children who are confident and relaxed in a situation are less likely to act out because they are nervous or worried.
Often well meaning parents are tempted to leave their child in a large group setting by waiting for him/her to become involved in something and then sneak out the door. That eliminates the hassle of leaving a crying child.
It also teaches the child not to trust you or the caregivers in the large group setting. They become wary of their surroundings anytime it feels like they are going to be dropped off. “When are Mommy and Daddy going to disappear?” And they have a hard time relaxing.
Although it isn’t as comfortable for parents initially, in the long run it is much more helpful to them AND their child to tell children exactly what to expect and then follow through. “We are going to leave for awhile and you are going to stay. Mrs. L. will take good care of you while we are gone. You have a good time and we’ll be back before lunch/supper.” Then allow your child (and yourself) one kiss and one hug before you leave.
When you return you will, of course, be glad to see your child, and they you. No need to bring rewards; your enthusiasm is all they need. Ask questions about all of the fun things they did while you were gone. Repeat this several times.
Each time your child will be more confident during your “away” time, even if it doesn’t show when you are dropping them off. Over time they will come to appreciate their own time away and you may be surprised at how easily you can leave them!
Then when things do come up away from home, your child will be much better prepared to handle them with self-control, because they will feel comfortable and capable in the new place. It is amazing what a difference that can make.
This is the 5th in a series of 6 articles that are designed to help parents and caregivers prepare children to be successful in kindergarten. If you have comments or ideas you would like to share, please add them in the comment space below.