By using a specific routine or method for all of our daily events we all know exactly what to do in certain circumstances and exactly what is expected of all of us.
I’m not talking about militarizing your whole day to the minute and sticking to it no matter what. That would certainly lead to disaster. One must be extremely flexible to survive the duck pecking years.
It’s more about having triggers that lead to events that your child knows, understands and is comfortable with.
For example,we have an end of meal routine. After every meal when all the food is either in her gob or on the roof I announce in a loud theatrical voice that “This-meal-is-officially-con-clu-ded ! Rahhhh” the crowd roars and we all clap and that marks the end of that certain meal.
The other day after lunch I started to say the magic words and my daughter started to bang her hands on the table and yell out.
“What is it?” I ask her.
No response. I start the magic words again.
“No no no nooo…” bang bang bang on the table again.
“What is it?” I ask again.
She looks at me for a moment.
“Apu” she says.
“What honey?” I reply.
“Apu” she says again.
Now I wish I could say that being the excellent father that I am I knew exactly what she wanted but it wasn’t until after I had checked her nappy for “a poo” that I realized that she actually wanted an ‘Apple’ and that lunch was not officially concluded for her.
After she had eaten half of the apple she gave it back to me. We proceed to say the magic words and “Raahhh” the crowd roared and we all clapped along and everyone was happy.
I guess the point is that she knows that after we say the words that there is no more food until next meal time. I have found that if she is still hungry she will not let me say the words until she has eaten her fill.
I have also found that when she does not want to eat then these magic words can help push her along a little bit. The trick seems to be to say the same thing in the same way after every meal and that way she knows what to expect and what is expected of her.
The routines we follow are not so much by the clock but more event driven. We always feed her, bath her, change her and put her to bed, not always at the same time, but always in the same way. That way our little one can be happy and secure as she gets to know how things run.