The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: Eight no-fuss ways to get kids to leave the park

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Eight no-fuss ways to get kids to leave the park

Today we have another guest blogger from  I couldn't have said it better myself!

How many times have you been at the park and seen a parent dragging a kicking and screaming kid to the car? They are screaming that they don’t want to go home. It’s no picnic to watch and witness another parent going through this with their child and it’s certainly no fun to go through it yourself. Are you destined to do battle with your child after every trip to the park? What can you do to get your kids to leave the park with no fussing? Check out 8 no-fuss ways to get kids to leave the park. These ways can probably help with leaving other places as well, but we’ll concentrate on the park.
  1. Set expectations: Before going to the park tell your child that you will be walking (or driving) to the park and they will be allowed to play for an hour (or whatever you decide). Let them know that when you say it’s time to go that they will need to get up and leave without fussing so that they will be allowed to come back and play another day. Once you lay out the plan with your child they will be better prepared and no how they are supposed to act when it’s time to leave.
  2. Buy in: Some kids do better if they get to have input in what is happening. You can give them 2 choices and make sure that either choice is good for you. You and the child can either feed the ducks at the pond or play at the park for an hour. Let your child choose and then explain that then that when it’s time to go they won’t throw a fit. Wait for them to agree that they won’t throw a fit when it’s time to go. Some children respond better when they are empowered and don’t feel like they never get to do what they want.
  3. Warnings: No, not the kind of warning that you use to threaten your child, but warnings to let them know that it’s almost time to go. “Okay Johnny, we will be leaving in 15 minutes. Ten more minutes Johnny. Okay Johnny, start cleaning up because we are leaving in 5 minutes.” When the child knows what to expect then they are better able to cope with leaving.
  4. Dangle a carrot: A real carrot is not necessary unless your child just loves to eat carrots. Often time’s kids will throw a fit when leaving the park because they feel like their fun is over. Letting the child know that when we get home we are going to have a cookie and some milk, or we are going to get out the Playdough, is enough to get them excited about leaving instead of dreading it.
  5. Limit the time: Sometimes fussing is more a result of being overly tired than just about leaving. Make sure that you only stay for the amount of time that is appropriate for the age of the child. If the child is under 3 then maybe only stay 30-45 minutes. If the child is only you can extend it to an hour and if they are 5-7 maybe an hour and a half. That’s probably the most a young child can play and not be overly tired at the end.
  6. Positive reinforcement: Give your child a gold star or something else that you come up with when he/she does what she is asked without fussing. Once your child collects 5 stars they will get to do something fun. Have lunch out with Daddy or have a friend over. Make sure that your child knows that they will earn a gold star on their chart if they leave the park without fussing. I would still give them a 10-minute warning just so they can be prepared that their time at the park is coming to an end. Remind them again at the warning that they will earn a gold star for their chart if they leave without fussing.
  7. Avoid being out at naptime: Often children will be less able to deal with the disappointment of leaving if they are ready for a nap. Taking them to the park first thing in the morning when they are fresh is the best time to avoid tantrums when it’s time to leave. It’s still a good idea to let them know how long you will be there and not stay too long as well as giving them a 10-15 minutes warning that the time to go is approaching.
  8. Bring a snack: Some children are more likely to throw fits when they have low blood sugar and are hungry. Sometimes it’s best to build in a snack time to your trip to the park. Let you child play for 30-45 minutes and then have them come over and get a snack. Let them know that after they enjoy their snack that it will be time to go. The snack serves a few different purposes here. First of all you are making sure that their blood sugar is not low when it’s time to go. Secondly, you are giving them a bridge activity between playing and leaving that will give them time to adjust to the idea of leaving. Thirdly, the snack is a fun thing to look forward to so you can say, “Okay, playtime is over, it’s time for a fun snack.” If the snack is indeed fun then the child will look forward to the next thing.
Happy parenting!

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