My Hands Holding Theirs: Setting Clear Expectations

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My Hands

My hands are so full now. Life is busy running kids to gymnastics, errands, prepping meals, and getting school done. Homeschooling five boys and running a business keep my plate full. Often I have all five of them with me. Outings, errands, and appointments can be frustrating. In trying to keep us all sane, I came up with some clear expectations to help them identify the different settings we’d go to and the appropriate behavior in each. By holding their hands through situations, it made it easier for my hands. 

I had to find a way to manage it all and give clear expectations to my kids so that I wouldn’t go crazy. I remember thinking, “How do you not know how to behave at the dentist? Why is this kid asking for something down every aisle?” The problem was not them, but me. I realized I had not taught the expectations clearly.

Holding Their Hand

My kids didn’t come into the world knowing everything. I sometimes forget that they’ve never done this before. I remember the first time I took out a car for my driver’s education school. The instructor made me fill up the car with gas. I looked at him confused. No one had ever taught me how to put gas in a car before. I needed him to show me how.

My Hands Holding Theirs: Setting Clear ExpectationsMy kids need this. I need to hold their hand and walk them through the different circumstances of life. A lot of behavior problems and frustrations are simply because I have not shown them how to do something. Here are a few tips for helping show kids what to do in different situations. 

Hold Their Hand and Walk Them Through It

1. Set Clear Expectations

Set clear expectations so that they know what to do. Even as adults, we like to know what is expected of us. We feel confused and frustrated when we don’t know what is going on. Therefore, set clear expectations of how you talk and act in different settings. Let them know what the purpose of each outing or place is. For example, the park is for playing and climbing. The dentist appointment is for getting our teeth cleaned. The pool is for splashing and screaming. The library is for quiet and reading. 

2. Scan the Room

When I go somewhere, say the dentist or the grocery store, I have my kids scan the room. We pretend that we are spies and we scan the room to see what type of place we are in and what type of things people are doing. This helps them figure out the purpose of the place. 

3. Use a Voice Number

I numbered our voice levels from 0-5. Zero being silent. One is whispering. Two is a conversation at a table. People that are not at the table should not be able to hear the conversation. This one helps in restaurants! Three is a louder voice used from room to room or in a large area. Four is an outside, loud, play voice such as the playground or backyard. Finally, five is yelling or screaming–used at the pool or a concert. When we go somewhere after we scan the room, we decide which level of voice we can use. 

4. Use a Body Behavior Number

In addition, I also numbered our body behavior into levels from 0-5. Zero being completely still, such as sleeping or hiding in hide and seek. One is sitting or doing something that does not use a lot of movement, like school work or listening to someone read a book at the library. Two is walking or inside body movements, such as mopping or building something. Three is more of an outside body behavior, such as running or jogging. Four designates big body movements such as exercise, throwing, or swinging arms in circles. For this one, we have to start being really aware of our space. And five is full body movements where we use all parts of our body, such as swimming, jumping, or throwing yourself in a pit at the trampoline park. When we go somewhere after we scan the room, we decide which level of voice we can use, and we also decide what level of body movement is appropriate. 

Habits Start Forming

After doing this repeatedly, the kids started to get it and didn’t need as much reminding. It has also helped me not be frustrated with their behavior in different places. We are all a little better off and enjoy our time together more.



The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.

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