One mistake I make over and over again as a mom is bringing up future plans to our kids. Especially plans that they'll be excited about. For example, we received an invitation to my niece's birthday party two weeks ahead and I told the kids we were invited and would go. Their response? "Right now?" What follows is trying to explain time to someone who has no concept of time. ;)
We've done a bit of experimenting and discovered that telling the number of "sleeps" is actually quite helpful. I never understood why parents talked in terms of "sleeps" until having my own walking, talking and confused children. Going to sleep over and over again is something young children can grasp and understand quite well. It seems to be okay to mention plans a day or two in advance as well. Even thought it isn't happening right then, it's soon and they can wrap their heads around tomorrow (Theo) or even the day after tomorrow (Coco). But next week is too far away to tell them about something.
Montessori recognized different Planes of Development. The First Plane is from birth until 6 years of age, the second from 6 until 12 years of age. She has a wonderful quote that captures perfectly why children under the age of six have such a hard time with time: "The first plane child wants to wrap their hand around the world, the second plane child wants to wrap their head around the world." Children up until six years of age are really only concerned with what they are experiencing in that moment. In other words, right now. They're interested in what they can see, hear, touch and feel at any given moment. They are totally and completely present at all times. For them, all that exists is right now.
So I really try to stop telling our kids about plans in the non-existent-to-them future. And I also avoid imposing future consequences. Children rarely understand the offense or the consequence outside of the present moment. So saying there will be no tv tomorrow really doesn't do anything but confuse them.
What do you think? Are your children able to understand the idea of the future? At what age did it get easier for them? How do you discuss upcoming plans?
(Photo of Coco in the Columbia Gorge)