Ask and Tell is a notion that wise parents use often. By wise parents, I don't just mean "Babywise" parents, but wise parents. It is an age-old trick. I have found that many of the moms I respect most around me, who have very wonderful children, use this tool.
So what is Ask and Tell? Ask and Tell is found in On Becoming Preschool Wise starting on page 179. This is the same idea as training in times of non-conflict. Before you leave your home to go somewhere (church, shopping, out to dinner, etc), you get down on your child's eye level. You then explain where you are going and what is expected. Explain the rules for this outing.
Over time, your child will come to understand the rules and won't need the rundown each time. Instead, you can ask. Ask what the rules are for church. You can start with questions like, "Do we run in the church?" As your child continues to get better, you just ask for the list of rules. This works well because people don't like to be lectured about something they understand well. The five year old does not need the rules spouted off to him when he has been hearing them for the last two years. He will tune out. But if you ask him questions, he will be involved, and he will know that you recognize he has progressed beyond the three year old level of understanding and behavior.
You can also use Ask and Tell for teaching about greeting people. Perhaps you are going to visit a relative you don't see often and you know your child is a bit shy around new people. You can teach him before you leave that your great aunt will say hello and he needs to say hello back. You can also say that she will likely tell him how cute he is, and that he should reply with gratitude.
Some children will also greatly benefit and need some role-playing. You can tell your child to show you how to walk in the church, or how to shake hands politely, etc.
I have also used it to avoid the meltdown when it is time to leave somewhere fun. Brayden has a hard time leaving places. This problem seems to be the worst the first time we go to the park after winter is over. So I will tell him that we are going to the park, and when it is time to leave, I don't want any fits or any crying. I know it is fun and he wants to stay forever, but we can't. I also know he is sad to leave, and that is fine to be sad, but that doesn't mean he can or should throw a fit. If he can't leave without throwing a fit, then we won't be going back. I lay it all out there. It produces the results I want.
As you use this skill, your child will come to understand and employ proper behavior and social courtesies.
I am not always great at utilizing this skill. I often find myself expecting my children to just know how to act in different situations. If you think about it, that is rather silly. Why would a child just know if he hasn't been taught? The times I remember to do this, things go much more smoothly.
I think I have shared this in the past, but this it illustrates this very well. We have some friends who had no children, but were great with kids. They loved kids and kids loved them. My children enjoyed their attention immensely.
They adopted a little baby boy. We went to visit them the day they came home from the hospital. For some reason, I didn't really think about the fact that my children would need to act differently than they were used to acting in their home. I knew they need to, but I didn't realize that they wouldn't know they needed to.
So we went over and our kid were kind of crazy. They were noisy and they wanted to have the attention they were used to. Of course our friends were new parents and enamored by their precious, long-awaited for baby.
I was shocked at their behavior at first, but as I thought about it, I realized the fault was with me.
We went back a few days later to bring them dinner. They wanted us to eat with them. Before we left, I sat my children down (they were 3.5 and 19 months at the time) and told them the rules. I explained there was a new baby and they needed to be quite and respectful.
They were fabulous! Poor Brayden was afraid to speak above a whisper at first because he didn't want to disturb the baby. It was a much better experience--and all it took was a few minutes of our time before we left the house. It was as simple as that.
This is something I am adding to my list of things I need to be better at. I have used it and I know it works. I need to make it a part of my habit before we leave the house. Try it! I promise you will like it.
RELATED POSTS/BLOG LABELS:
- Training in Times of Non-Conflict : http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/10/training-in-times-of-non-conflict.html
- Prevention : http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/05/prevention.html
- Proactive and Directive Parenting: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2009/02/proactive-and-directive-parenting.html