Three different ways to plan for new experiences for your child:
1. Privileges you are about to give the OK for: Practice first, set limits or expectations, and watch to make sure all is going well.
For example, crossing the street: Have your child cross with you over and over again giving you the signal when it is safe to cross. When she makes the right decision every time about when it is safe, let her begin crossing on her own with you watching. Set a limit on how far on the other side of the road she is allowed to go. Gradually increase that limit as she proves she will follow the rules.
2. Experiences your child may not know how to handle: Act out what will be happening.
If you expect him to act a certain way and do certain things, explain and teach him how. For example, teach him how to shake hands, practice looking people in the eyes, or give him examples of what to say when he meets someone new.
3. Experiences your child is excited about (vacations, sports outings, carnivals, etc.): Use imagination. Imagine all the wonderful things about the event, but be careful not to overdo this part.
Sometimes an event can’t possibly live up to the perfect pictures we create in our minds. And, if we talk about the event for too long ahead of time it becomes bigger than life and beyond what can really happen. A child can end up disappointed by the actual event without understanding why. If disappointments like this happen over and over again, a person can spend a lifetime searching for the “perfect” experience – which of course never happens. Many of us as adults are still caught up in this search. It may have started when we were children.
One real mom told me when the “it wasn’t perfect” talk comes up, she trys to point out how the not-so-perfect parts led to something else that made everything work out OK. For example, we didn’t get to ride the merry-go-round but that meant we were down the path just at the right time to get to pet the live animals.