Helpful Reminders to Set Expectations

If you read my article Expectations and a Challenge, then you read that I like to prepare my children in the car before arriving at our destination. Here are a few of the things I say to them in order to remind them what I expect.

First, let me explain that I find it helps to tell them before we arrive. That way they can prepare themselves before becoming distracted with their new surroundings. I don’t say all of these every time, and I alter what I say depending on if I’m speaking to my 8, 5 or 3-year-old, but these are a few of my expectations for my children. I always say them politely, and then often tell them that if they follow all of these rules, how proud I will be and even eager to return with them another time.

If I know I will be asking a lot of them, and for a long period of time, I will often follow it up with “If you behave, when we get home you get to…”, often it’s watch a movie, have a favorite snack, or I try to think of something else special for them.

I don’t always like to bribe my kids, and I don’t want them to think all good behavior deserves a reward each and every time. I believe they should always aim to be the best version of themself. But, they are still young children. If I have a full day planned with running errands and doing my things, then I like to reward them with something fun at the end that they like.

Below are a few examples of places that we might go and what I might say to them in the car before we arrive:

On Our Way To School:  Please…

  • Listen to your teachers
  • Be kind to all of your friends and classmates
  • Give someone new a compliment
  • Look for someone lonely at lunch or recess and be a friend to them
  • Learn something new :)

On Our Way To The Store:   Please…

  • Do not grab anything off the shelf without asking me first
  • Stay in the shopping cart or right beside me
  • No running
  • Hold my hand in the parking lot
  • Wait patiently in line and do not beg for candy at checkout
  • Be mommy’s helper (my kids love putting things in the shopping cart for me, or helping to carry a few light items) :)

On Our Way To Someone Else’s House:  Please…

  • Take off your shoes when we go inside
  • Remember your Please’s and Thank You’s
  • Do not grab toys without asking first
  • Stay in the rooms they are entertaining in (do not go upstairs or downstairs without asking first)
  • Our house rules still apply – no running, wrestling, jumping on furniture, yelling, etc.
  • Have Fun :)

With this one I like to remind them that if we behave well, we might get invited back. But if we are acting out or not following the rules, then they may not want to have us over again. I try to help them understand what an honor it is to be invited into someone else’s house, and that the best way we can show our appreciation is by using our manners and respecting their property.

On Our Way To The Park:  Please…

  • Hold my hand in the parking lot
  • Do not run off, stay close to mommy so I can always see you and help
  • Take turns and no pushing your siblings or any other kids
  • Stay close to your younger siblings, or friends, and help them if needed
  • Be careful when running that you don’t bump into others
  • Let’s have some fun :)

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