How to Avoid Walking on Eggshells Around Children

Do you ever feel like every time you look at your small beings you wonder, “What’s next?”
I find that many families use this question with a slightly exasperated tone. “Oh nooooo, what’s next?!?”
It seems like there’s a behavior house of cards around the house. One card moves and then boom!
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Look, I know that things can get hairy. You struggle with your small being to leave the play date, then arrive home to a small flood in the bathroom, but things look up with you find something in the fridge to whip up for dinner…and then it comes crashing down again upon hearing your small beings fighting in the other room. You think, “What else could possibly go wrong today?”
The only way out of this perpetual eggshell walk – “Disaster is coming, I know it!” – is to take control of that which you can control.
Think of what comes next in terms of what actions you are going to take.
For instance, after the play-date struggle, think of the immediate next activity with your small being – the walk home! “Alex, it’s time to leave. We’re going to have a great walk home together.” Framing the expectations can help make them happen. You could even add in more specific expectations about what a great walk looks like. For example, you could tell your small being you’re going to hold hands, go through the park, or sing together along the way.
Towards the end of the walk ask yourself, “What’s next?” In our case, going into your home and washing hands. Talk to your small being about this upcoming activity. This will help ensure that it happens.

After your small being’s hands are washed ask again, “What’s next?” If your small being helps with dinner, then tell them exactly what they’ll do. If they do not, then set them up with an activity and let them know what you’re doing.
Using this question -- "What's next?" -- in a positive way is helpful in setting everyone up for success and keeping all the beings in your family aware of what’s happening. You already do it for your own work and life, as it helps you be on task. Extend this habit to your small being and you’ll decrease your anxiety and improve their behavior.
Insight Into Action!

Parents: What’s the next thing you’re doing with your small being after your read this post? Declare your “What’s next?” action!
Teachers and Professionals: How does this translate to your classroom? Do you ever feel like you’re just waiting for the shoe to drop? What did you do about it?


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