Monday, May 16, 2011

OK, Here's The Plan

It's sort of a ritual, especially since I'm always home in the morning now. I call Ben over, have him sit down on my lap, and I start out, "OK, here's The Plan." Then I go through our day step by step, usually ending on whatever event I know he will most look forward to. Then we execute The Plan. Once we get to the part of the day where The Plan ended, I sit Ben down and lay out a new Plan.

It works great for both of us. Days where there is no Plan usually go off the rails. Chances are, if there's no Plan, we don't leave the house. Laying out a Plan helps Ben to understand that even if we aren't going to the playground right now, we will get there. And it helps me make sure I get done what needs to be done. 

I don't remember exactly when I started laying out a Plan for each day, but I'm pretty sure it was before Ben had any idea what I was talking about, or at least before he had any way to articulate that he understood. Now though, he gets it. At first I was surprised by how detailed his memory was. Once I've given him The Plan, he will repeat it back step by step if asked. I've mostly stopped being surprised, but I am still constantly amazed. He even knows our most basic Plan by heart. If I have cash and don't need to stop at the bank before going to market, he gets upset.

Laying out The Plan doesn't always assuage Ben's frustration over not getting to do what he wants to do right away, but it works better than it used to. Sometimes The Plan merely gives him a way to more accurately articulate what he doesn't want to do. Take for instance one evening when Ben wanted to play outside at dinner time. Karin laid out The Plan: "We are going to put on our shoes, get in the car, go to McDonald's, get you chicken and french fries, come home, eat dinner, and then we can play outside." His response?
"Not want put on shoes, get in car, go McDon's, get kick and sench sighs, come home, eat din. Just want play outside."

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