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Mommy, What Are the Steps and Rules?

Our preschooler within the last few months has become very interested in steps, stages, and rules. He first started with the countdown method and would ask us what would come first in terms of numbering. For example, he’d say, “What will number one be?” and would go all the way to twenty! Initially, it was quite stressful trying to figure out twenty things for his list, but we figured that the simpler we made it, the better. We’d break things down into two or three numbers and were able to go to twenty! Most times, we started out with either the morning or evening routine. In the mornings, he’d want to know what would come first, so number one would always be, “start getting ready for school,” number two would be, “get dressed,” number three would be something like, “comb hair,” and it would go on from there all the way up to twenty. 

Just recently, he’s embarked on the “Steps and Rules” journey. Because we are pretty unyielding when it comes to matters concerning a proper bedtime and trying to get him to sit down (and not run around—choking hazard) and eat, somehow he’s come to understand that these are considered “rules.” Amazing! But each evening he gets home, he want us to run down the rules and sometimes refers to them as steps. He’d say, “Mommy, what are the rules about eating?” or “Daddy, what are the steps before bedtime?” A short time ago, I read that three- to five-years-olds “like rules.” Hard to believe really, because our tyke often throws tantrums when we try to get him to do something that he obviously is not happy with. However, it seems to me now as if he is trying to understand (at this young age) priorities and possibly, boundaries—what the right things are to do and what things may not be too nice. Maybe it is true about the whole rule liking thing—he may not admit to liking some of them (steps or stages for that matter), but what it all really comes down to is the basic need, whether they truly comprehend it or not, for order and their craving for consistency …

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