Traditions as part of your kid’s normal day

by beagooddad on August 11, 2006

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We take the kids with us to almost everywhere. They have learned to tolerate grocery shopping, clothes shopping, watching me run a 5K, and riding to relatives’ houses a couple hours away. I expect that by the time they are adults any trip shorter than the moon will be dull.

We have developed a certain set of free or nearly free rituals at several common locations. These rituals provide a mental anchor for the kids. Here are some examples:

  • Pressing the button to open the automatic doors
  • Getting a roll of pennies from the bank to put in their piggy banks when they get home
  • Carrying a bag of groceries to the car after grocery shopping
  • Looking at the fish/hamsters/birds at Meijer
  • Pushing the tiny kid sized cart around the pet store
  • Playing with the Thomas Trains at Barnes & Noble

None of these are big deals. None of these cost more than fifty cents. All of these provide a reason to enjoy mundane trips.

I recommend making these habits something that you do at the end of your trip whenever possible.

I also recommend using a time limit whenever possible. I had trouble gettign the kids away from the Thomas Trains when they were two. I started giving them a five minute warning. Then every minute I would give them an update. After a couple times using the countdown, they knew when it was time to go. When I announce 1 minute, they will sometimes speed up in an attempt to get as much playing in as possible.

The key to almost all of these is that they are things that started because our kids noticed them. And, they are not bribes that we ever offered them in exchange for being good.

If you pay attention, it is amazing how easy it is to entertain a kid sometimes.

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