Anticipation: One of a Parents Most Powerful Tools

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Everywhere you look, everywhere you go, anticipation is in the air right now. With Christmas right around the corner, everything seems to be screaming “get excited, there are only 6 more days until Christmas”. Well, guess what? It’s working. Around here everyone is happily looking forward to visiting family, great food, presents, and of course, SANTA! Yes, it truly is amazing how a little hype can get everyone pumped up.

Well, now I want you to shift gears and think of your family adventures. Are they as eagerly anticipated as Christmas is? Actually, is anything in your life (or your families life) as anticipated? Well, take note because anticipation is one of the most powerful tools that parents of young children have. Here are some tips for building up the anticipation on anything you do to make it MUCH more enjoyable.

1. Your attitude is the most important. If you’re really excited about something and keep talking about it, your kids will quickly pick up on it.

2. Focus on the positive. We actually use anticipation to avoid talking about the negative things. For example, Mason is terrified of going to the doctor so for a few days prior to his check up we talk about the popsicle that the doctor will give him after his shot. Pretty soon, he’s so excited about the popsicle that he forgets about the rest of the experience and actually wants to go to the doctor.

3. Use an excited voice. Okay, mine actually sounds a little overexcited and cheesy when I’m building things up but it totally works for the kids. “Oh my goodness Chloe, you are so big. It is going to be the coolest thing ever when you can wear underwear. Then you will be a big kid like Mason.” No, taking responsibility for your bodily functions is not fun when you’re two. However, if Mom and Dad keep talking like it’s the coolest thing in the world (and to us it is), pretty soon the kids believe it too.

4. Hype up the small things. There’s no reason why you can only build up massive things like Christmas. We hype up trips to the library, bike rides to the park, and getting dessert. Let’s face it, when kids are little, anything out of the ordinary can easily be turned into the extraordinary. “Wow kids, today is going to be the BEST. DAY. EVER. After you clean your room and help me fold the laundry, we’re going to eat popcorn. Wahoo, popcorn! Wow, you guys are so lucky. Dad is going to be so jealous when he gets home from work.”

5. Build up bigger things for a long time. When we took our kids backpacking to Coyote Gulch this fall, we talked about it for a few weeks before the trip. Mason would get to bring his new backpack. Chloe would get to wear her favorite hat. We were taking gummy bears (by the way, Sunflower Market makes the best gummy bears in the world). They got to hike all the way across the dessert in the SAND! Seriously, we built up every little aspect of the trip. By the time we made it to the trailhead, Mason was sprinting down the trail with excitement.

This last trip works especially well for road trips where hyping them up is a key to driving without pulling your hair out or stopping 50 times along the way. By focusing on the fun both along the way and at the destination, our kids are excited about every aspect of the trip and it makes the long hours in the car much more bearable.  The kids have a vested interest in the trip since they have an idea of where we are going and what to look forward to, even if they don’t fully understand it.

Pretty much all of these ideas can be used in any aspect of parenting. Anticipation is a great tool that turns the mundane into something spectacular. Instead of our kids saying, “we have to hike bear creek aaagggaaaaiiin?” They say “I want to hike bear creek again because then we can play in that awesome tree and throw rocks in the river”. We use it every day, and especially use it in with our adventures. Our kids actually start getting excited about our summer trips around March, when we all sit down together and talk about what we want to do as we fill out our calendar. It’s awesome. In our experience, this is one of the best tools to get our kids excited about adventures and getting out and exploring life.

Here’s to anticipating your next adventure!!!

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