Lately I've been finding it easier working with my preschooler by making tasks or requests that are broken into increments of either time or scope. I've tried using a timer while getting her to clean up her toys. I set it for 10 minutes of cleanup time, then set it for 5 minutes of playtime break. I alternated back and forth until the room was clean. The process took a long time, but did achieve results without dad having to resort to threatening to throw out toys.
Yesterday, I tried something new in setting her a goal of picking up toys in a quarter of her playroom, followed by a reward and then having her return to clean another quarter of the room. The effect was far faster and more effective in achieving a measurable and noticeable difference for each increment.
This morning I wanted a little bit of quiet time so I could work on some writing. I set the timer and told Kyra when it went off she would get a reward (more on rewards in a future blog) if she managed to play quietly during that time without making a large mess. In this instance, the timer was ineffective. Within moments she was in the den, tugging on my shirt and looking for me to entertain her. A few moments later, she was back again. Reminding her of our deal didn't work one bit.
I asked what she could do on her own that she'd like that would give me the time I needed. Kyra asked to play the toddler reading games on Starfall.com. Now, she's quietly playing on our old PC with headphones on with me a couple feet away working on the newer PC. It has worked far better.
I recall when I was younger, how much larger increments of time seemed to me. While a few minutes seems incredibly scant to me, it may feel like forever to her. Perhaps it has to due with the physics concept of time relativity. It is said that time moves slower the closer you get to a center of gravity. Perhaps being those extra couple feet closer to the ground makes time go slower. I may just try lying on the floor all day sometime next week and see how slow the day seems to pass.
While incremental staging of tasks definitely gets a thumbs up from me, I don't see the timer really working for anything beyond setting a limit on quiet time punishment. The goal will be increments based on clear physical results. It is easier for me to measure and easier for her to understand the goal.
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