We have kids in and out of our house all the time. Neighbors come to hang out with Liza and Jason and just stay forever. We love it! But eventually their moms come for them and tell them it's time to leave... and if you are a parent or work with kids you know how that can go!
Right from the beginning though I started telling kids...
"Hey, I have a rule. You leave well or you don't come back for a few days. And do you know what it looks like to leave well? I means that when your mom comes and says it's time to leave you don't go 'awwww I don't want to"... instead you say 'Ok mom! Thanks for letting me play. Bye guys!' and then you leave."
I figure I don't want tantrums on my front porch and the other moms really don't want the struggle. So we deal with it up front and teach the kids the appropriate way to act when their moms come for them.
The other day a boy was here playing and it was time for us to eat so I told him it was time for him to go home for a while. He started to say that he didn't want to leave but I calmly interrupted him and said "Don't forget to leave well!" and he stopped himself, jumped up and said "Ok. Thanks for letting me play. Bye Miss Laura!"
Sometimes kids just need gentle reminders as they are forming new behaviors. That's all he needed and he was on his way!
I've also been working on this idea with my kids. They usually leave well. We don't get fits and tantrums. But we do get some whiny, bad attitudes. But they are learning just like the neighbor kids and things are changing!
The other night while visiting with my family, everyone was outside and it was getting toward bedtime. I told Liza and Jason "Ten more minutes guys." Liza started to do her usual "awwwww" whine but caught herself just into it, straightened up and said "ok mommy!"
And that, my friends, is a parenting pay-off!!
We work so hard to lay foundations, to teach appropriate behaviors. We talk about and work on something for WEEKS. We work on it until we think it just isn't going to work and we just can't keep working on this thing because it is driving us nuts to have to keep talking about it!
But then it happens.
You see the progress.
The appropriate behavior.
And all those weeks of working on it are suddenly worth it!
Take the time to TEACH kids appropriate behaviors.
Remind them, before they will need it, what the appropriate behavior is for the situation/request that is coming.
And stick with it!
Once you start, don't ever give up!
Pay-off will come. It might come quickly with some things and others may take a lot longer. But don't give up! Because when you give up you let the kid know that what you were trying to teach them really isn't that important after all.