Why are your clothes all over the floor? Pick up your trash! What is your bike doing in the front yard? Stop picking on your brother! Get your wet butt off my couch! Don’t scratch that, it’ll spread! Ahhhh, the sounds of summer…
Really, we’re only into the second week of vacation here and its feeling like I’ve lost control already! I tried the dry erase board with daily chores. I tried setting up a daily schedule, making “Summer House Rules”, withholding pool and playground time for “misbehavior”, but none of that was working. In some cases, my boys were actually rebelling against my rules and in other cases (like grounding); it just backfired because now I was stuck in the house with them!
My husband has been doing his best to help by using “Daddy force” ~ you know, that big voice and direct command method that always gets such eager participation…but every time I would hear him bark a command or correct/announce a mistake or poor choice, I would get upset or even defensive on my kids behalf.
I was scrambling for an answer that would help me to get my kids to do what I expected of them over the next 2.5 months…Then my darling husband did something that made everything come into perspective…he insulted me!
We both woke up early for the first time since summer break started…and he said nothing. I sorted the laundry and put away the boy’s clothes…and he said nothing. The boys popped out of bed an hour early and came in to our room to spend time with us…and he said nothing. Then Max mentioned he was still sleepy…and Dad spoke; “Then it’s a good thing your going to bed an hour early tonight because of the way you acted last night, huh?!”…and Max and Alex got angry. Then he started reading a book about healthy eating and spoke again. He told me that the stuff I buy is on the “NOT that” part of the list (I had changed my buying habits about a month ago bonehead, thanks for noticing)…and I got angry. Finally, before he walked out the door, he asked for the things he wanted us to do “for him” today. HA! Let’s just say that dad had not created an attitude of servitude within his family so far and we were NOT enthusiastic about granting his wishes today.
THEN it HIT me! THAT’S IT! An attitude of servitude has to be EARNED not demanded. If we want our children to joyfully carry out our every request, we have to put as much energy into acknowledging what they do RIGHT as we do pointing out what they do wrong! I realized right then, that I had been seeing every blunder, mistake or failure as an “opportunity for learning” so I would stop them and call out the misbehavior and either scold them for it or lecture them on how to do it better or “my way” next time. But I can’t tell you that I took the same amount of time pointing out or thanking them for doing stuff correctly or independently…and THAT is where I was failing.
Now of course, I had to share my revelation with my husband who immediately identified that as “calling out his misbehavior” but he’s just a smart alec so I let him slide…but he did see where I was going and I think he agreed with me. As far as the kudos discipline method, it's been successfully deployed and I have been seeing tremendous results from my kids. Honestly…it’s making ME feel better too because I am doing what I do best; focusing on and bringing more of the good stuff into my space!
The To-Do list has turned into a “Goals” list and we are having a lot more fun putting up stars and check marks rather than frowny faces and negative TV/allowance/bedtimes. The best part is that my kids have started to thank ME for doing stuff for THEM! I even got a kiss on the cheek today for putting an extra $3.00 in the pool bag…
…I wonder what I’ll get for mowing the lawn :o)
Have a playful day!