Being a parent is a tough job. We set limits and expectations. We thrive when our children succeed above our standards, and feel overwhelmed and embarrassed when they do not. Are these expectations to help them become better people, or because we feel pressured into having perfect kids? This got me thinking, “what should every five-year-old know?”
I made a list of expectations and things that I want Peanut to know now that he’s five. Since he’s five, I narrowed down my list to the five must have things that he needs to know.
Respond politely and courteously when an adult speaks to you.
Earlier this week, Peanut was having what we call a “major meltdown” during our dinner outing. As he’s gotten older, these “major meltdowns” are not as common as they once were. It just so happened that a co-worker of mine was coming over to the table to say hello during this time. He knows this person and would say “hi” and chat with her if he was in a good mood. However, he pretty much ignored her greeting and didn’t even look her way. I was embarrassed and made sure to have an immediate conversation with Peanut to make sure he knew that I expected him to say hello, even if he was not in the best mood. I also made sure to seek this co-worker out the next day to apologize. I explained the situation and what she said got me really thinking and inspired this post. To sum up our conversation, she said that I shouldn’t expect Peanut to be perfect all of the time. She and I have been friends for many years and she has three boys of her own. We have had MANY conversations about parenting and I love getting advice from her since her kids are older than mine.
As I continued the conversation with this coworker, I explained that I didn’t expect Peanut to be perfect, but that I did expect him to use his manners and address the adult that just spoken to him, even if he was in the middle of a “major meltdown.” One of my biggest pet peeves is when a child blatantly ignores an adult when spoken to. I do not mean some random person in the store or on the street trying to talk to a child, but a person that the child knows is a safe adult. A family member, a daycare provider, a coworker, to name a few. Have you ever had this happen to you? I’ve seen this happen many times. An adult says “hi, how are you?” to a child they know and the child knows is safe adult. As they walk by, the child acts like htey aren’t even there and ignores their greeting completely. This lack of respect bothers me SO MUCH!
I am not asking Peanut to have friendly conversations with random people he doesn’t know, but he should be able to carry on a typical “five-year-old” conversation with a safe and known adult, like my coworkers that he knows mommy works with.
Stay seated at the dinner table until everyone is finished.
After Peanut was out of his highchair and booster seat, there was no keeping him at the dinner table when he was done eating. We were fine to let him go into the next room and play so we could finish our dinner. Now that he is in preschool and can sit for a longer period of time, we have made him staying at the table part of our dinnertime routine. I expect him to stay at the table and converse with the people he is with.
I know that sometimes this is a battle, but we are sticking to our guns. A habit is not learned overnight and this is one that I firmly believe will help out our entire family in the long run.
Know that other kids and families have different rules.
This has become one of our favorite sayings in our house. Peanut is totally embodying his role as first born, especially since Pickle came along, and likes to point out when other kids are not following the rules. This was apparent during one of our shopping trips about a year ago. We saw some children his age standing inside a shopping cart and not following the rules we have set for our shopping trips. Peanut was ready to go over and tell these children how to fix their behavior. I had to explain to him that these children had their own parents to tell them how to behave and that not all kids follow the same rules that we have in our family. That was hard for him to understand at first, but we kept talking about it when it naturally came up into conversation. Over time, this idea has just kind of become ingrained into our family culture. This helps him to understand why we may say no, but his friends get to do something or vice versa.
I’m glad we started talking about this at such a young age with Peanut because it has really come in handy with Pickle around. Peanut sometimes has a hard time with fact that we do so much for Pickle because she needs our help, but we expect him to do the same thing on his own. The main trigger for this seems to be getting dressed in the morning and putting on pajamas after bath time. Pickle will be two in June, but she still needs an adult putting on her diaper and getting her dressed. Peanut is more than capable of getting dressed independently, but sometimes we hear him asking why we can’t help him get dressed. We simply say, “different kids have different rules.”
Wash himself up during bath time and know about “swimsuit areas.”
I am a firm believer in bathing my children every night, even when Peanut had his eczema breakouts. I know not all moms see eye to eye on this, and I believe that each mom does what they think best for their own children. When Pickle was old enough to take a bath in a regular size tub, we would have Peanut and Pickle take a bath together to streamline this nightly routine. To make things easier, I would hand Peanut his washcloth full of soap and tell him wash himself up so I could bathe Pickle. I did strategically teach Peanut where to start and how to wash himself up. I know some nights there are parts of him that do not get as clean as I would like, but he is learning and I want to have independent children.
It didn’t take long for them to realize that their “swimsuit areas” were different from each other. A swimsuit area is any area of the body that is covered with a bathing suit when we are swimming. Peanut noticed, but Pickle was the one who started getting “grabby.” This prompted a conversation with Peanut about swimsuit areas. We talked about what his “swimsuit area” was and that is not ok for anyone to touch. We then talked about people who might need to and why, such as a doctor in a doctor’s office or if we’re in a rush and mommy or daddy is washing him up very quickly during bath. This was a precursor to the “good touch/bad touch” conversation.
This is a very important topic for parents to talk with their children about and it’s never too early to start. I don’t want my kids to grow up fearful or worrying, but I want them to be educated on important issues. We can’t think that a 5-year-old is too young to know about what is appropriate and what is not. Our conversation never turned to scary things, but the main point was that no one should touch your swimsuit area unless you’re taking a bath or at the doctor.
Know how to call “911” from a cell phone.
The hubs and I don’t have a house phone since we both have smartphones. That got me thinking about emergency scenarios and what would happen if Peanut needed to call 911. We discussed what a true emergency is and isn’t and that calling 911 isn’t a game. We talked about the first step in a real emergency would be to find an adult. If there are no adults around to help, then he should call 911. I showed Peanut how to get to the emergency screen on my iPhone. He knew that 911 was for emergencies, but didn’t know HOW to make the phone call. We assume that because kids know 911 is for emergencies, that they know HOW to make the call. Peanut didn’t know how to get to the emergency screen on my phone until I showed him.
There are many things that 5-year-olds should know about or how to do. And I realize that 5-year-olds have expectations for their parents as well. You can read about this on my post, Five Things My 5-Year-Old Expects from Me.