Taking your toddler to a graduation ceremony?
You or a family member or perhaps someone you know is about to graduate. First of all, congratulations! All the hard work is about to culminate in one of the grandest ceremonies of all! Full of pomp and circumstance and yes, even a toddler.
Taking a toddler to graduation can be an enjoyable experience. Or it can be a nightmare. It all depends on how well prepared the toddler is for such an event. The person taking the toddler needs to be prepared as well.
If indeed, you are graduating, then your toddler will be with someone other than a parent. We will get to the parent-less situation later.
Given enough time to properly prepare, there should be no problems with taking your toddler to a graduation ceremony.
We have discussed in earlier articles the different ways of conditioning a child when preparing for a certain event. A graduation ceremony is no different. Through planning and conditioning, your toddler can add experience to their resume’.
Think for a moment about what exactly a graduation ceremony is. It is a gathering of hundreds if not thousands of strangers in a very strange atmosphere. “Why are all those people wearing those funny hats?” and “Look! that man is wearing a black dress!” Toddlers will state the obvious and question everything.
Expose them early and often to the nuances of the ceremony. For example, if a family member is graduating, let them see the cap and gown on the person. Be prepared for questions; it’s their nature.
And start explaining what and why you are attending. It will probably fall on deaf ears, but at least they will hear you talking about it.
If you don’t already, now may be a good time for a church visit. Graduation and church are similar in you stay seated for long periods of time around various people. And a church service has a structure to it as graduation does. They are totally different, but they both require sitting and silence.
Present Your Toddler With Examples
If your toddler is questioning you about ‘what is graduation?’ Show them. You can show them a video of what a graduation ceremony is. Just Google it and select the videos. The internet is full of various graduation exercises.
Try showing them a different one every day for the two or three days leading up to the event. Look at it as an opportunity for them to learn something new. Who knows they might just be totally glued to the whole ceremony and not make a sound.
And when they behave as you want them to, give them proper praise, particularly if they do well during the ceremony. Just emphasize the importance of their behavior and how proud you are of them when they do so.
Ask the Staff About a Toddler-Friendly Section
When the day of the graduation ceremony is at hand, and you walk into the event, ask the staff about seating. Perhaps there is a section designed just for toddlers with a restroom close by or other amenities your toddler could benefit from.
Some graduations are held outside. If so, there could be an area for children with a small play area or playground. If so, then rest easy, they may not want to leave!
Also, when choosing where to sit, think about sitting at the end of the aisle. That way, if you need to get up with the child, you don’t bother others. Spending a bit of time scouting out the perfect location to sit is part of a good plan.
When you and your toddler walk into the graduation ceremony, you may look like you are moving in. Pack a bag with everything for every contingency.
Take some time planning what you will need, what you may need, and what you hope you don’t need. Then pack it all up. I don’t think there is a limit for carry-on luggage at these events.
Once you set-up base camp, start occupying the toddler with small toys and any other items you packed in your bag-of-tricks. If the ceremony is two hours long, you need to pack three hours’ worth of entertainment. Then again, you may not need anything you packed. Better to pack and not need than to need and not pack.
If the Parent(s) Are Graduating
If you and your spouse are both graduating, then you will be preparing to graduate and be apart from the toddler. Plan accordingly. If your toddler is only happy and content around you, then maybe skipping the ceremony might be best. Wait a minute. You want your toddler to be a part of your graduating, right?
Just make sure the person taking the child is someone they are very familiar with. What you don’t want is to hear your child screaming out over the audience, “I WANT MY MOMMY!”
Perhaps since you are graduating, there will be a family member taking the child whom they are comfortable with. Whew! Bullet dodged.
Also, prepare them to see mom or dad or both on the stage receiving those degrees. Emphasize the importance of them not yelling out at the parents when they see them. It could be easier said and harder to do but work at it, you’ll get there!
Proper behavior at graduation may be difficult for a toddler to understand. Just take some time, and expose the child to graduation and all it entails. It will be fine! And fun!
Take your time and get everything in order before the big day. Your toddler is going to show the world how to act at graduation. Your toddler may act better than some older kids or even adults. You never know. You must be ready for anything is how to approach your graduation ceremony with your toddler.
It doesn’t matter if you take them or someone else does. Just remember, lots of love and affection!