Don’t Ignore Yourself

Lucas on chairThe title of this post might sound odd, but if you’re a parent, I think you’ll know what I’m talking about. It goes something like this:

Mom is busy with something and not concentrating on her children, yet she sees misbehavior out of the corner of her eye. Without thinking about it and without even looking up, she says, “Lucas, get down from there.” (Lucas has started climbing everything lately.)

I bet you can guess what happens next. Yes, the child ignores what mom said. She didn’t say it with much conviction, nor did she call his name or get eye contact first. And since mom is so busy, she doesn’t always realize what’s happening until later, if at all. She ignores herself doesn’t follow through.

Lucas was kind enough to test this theory out on me just as I write this. We are sitting outside on the deck, in our flimsy outdoor chairs, and Lucas stood up. Yes, the little monkey is standing on and climbing on everything. You’d think he’s two! Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him stand up, and looked him in the eye as I told him to sit down. He immediately squatted down as if he was going to sit. Trusting that he was going to sit, I looked back at the computer. What did he do the minute my eyes went back to the screen? He stood back up! We did this two or three times before he decided to obey and stay seated.

When we speak to our children this way, we pretty much give them the freedom to ignore us. If we ignore ourselves, why shouldn’t our children ignore us? Try to catch yourself whenever this happens. Before you become engrossed in whatever you’re doing, whether it’s cooking, dishes, or working on the computer, make sure the kids are occupied doing something else. Turning on the TV or having an extra session of roomtime is better than saying something you shouldn’t or ignoring them completely.

“When you speak to your child in a way that requires an answer or an action, you should expect an immediate and complete response. This principle speaks to the parents’ level of expectation. Children will rise to whatever level is expected and encouraged. Too many parents expect little and receive exactly that,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 125).

If obedience is your goal, always make sure you say what you mean and mean what you say. Never utter a word unless you are prepared to follow through. Recognize your moments of deep concentration, and either be prepared to follow through on what you say, or change the situation so you won’t have to correct your child.

Okay, I’m leaving…

Source: school-crossing.com

How many times have you been in a store and overheard a parent say these words to their child? “Okay, I’m leaving.” Some will go so far as to say, “We’ll see you when you get home,” or “Let’s hope they leave the lights on for you tonight.”

Often, these words are said in jest, but not always. You can imagine a child who’s engrossed in whatever toy or book has caught his eye. If he hasn’t been trained in first-time obedience, he has learned that it’s okay to ignore his parent’s voice. Then what is the parent left to do?

My issue with the “Okay, I’m leaving…” crowd is that it’s a giant, empty threat. Our children know that we wouldn’t leave them in the store. This empty threat might work the first two or three times, but after that, our kids figure us out. They know that these words are meaningless. They know that we won’t walk too far away or turn a corner and leave their sight.

The problem with this scenario is that the child isn’t listening to the parent in the first place. By issuing empty threats, we are only making it worse. Whenever we say something we don’t truly mean, we are teaching our kids that our words mean nothing. We are teaching them that it’s okay to say something you don’t mean. We are teaching them not to listen.

So what is a parent to do in this situation? Unfortunately, there is no quick fix in parenting. The solution is to train your child to listen, to obey. Before you enter the store, explain what you expect, and have the child repeat it back to you. Give the child some empathy and say that you know how hard it is to tear ourselves away from the things that interest us. If you still have an issue with the child not coming when you need to leave, simply pick them up (if they’re little) or take them by the hand. Then if you meet resistance, use your stern mommy voice, and simply say, “It’s time to go.”

If you’re having this problem with a child who’s too big to pick up or guide sternly by holding a hand (perhaps beyond the age of 6 or 7), then you might have bigger problems on your hands. And rather than leaving the child home whenever you leave the house, work on your obedience training at home.

Set an Example

Source: followbarbsbliss.blogspot.com

Have you given thought to how you’d like your kids to behave, think, and believe? What qualities are important to you? Maybe you like a spotless house. Maybe you imagine your kids sitting around reading classic literature. Maybe you believe that they are piano prodigies. Whatever your ideals, do you make it a point to display these characteristics yourself?

I’ve been reading Charlotte Mason’s books lately. Charlotte Mason was an educator in the 1800s whose teachings have become a homeschooling philosophy. She teaches that children learn best from “living books” or stories that tell a tale about the subject. Dry textbooks written by many people are the antithesis to her beliefs.

One thing that Charlotte Mason emphasizes is that parents must display the characteristics they wish of their children. If we want our children to clean up their toys, we must clean up our own belongings. If we want them to read, we need to read. If we want them to play piano, we need to either play ourselves or be sure they have scheduled time to learn and practice.

The point is that we cannot expect these behaviors from our children if we don’t model them ourselves. This goes for everything from putting toys away to always telling the truth. The perfect Ezzo example is when someone calls the house and the parent doesn’t want to talk to that person, he or she will say, “Tell them I’m not home.” It’s a simple white lie, but it’s a lie nonetheless.

So many parents lose themselves in their children’s misbehaviors. They think that one more sticker chart or timeout method will be the cure-all to all of the child’s problems. There is no quick fix in parenting. I know a couple of parents who seem to really have their act together, and the characteristic I see most in them is that they run a tight ship. They have high expectations of their kids, yet the parents themselves are not hypocrites. The parents’ things are put away. Papers are filed. Books are stacked neatly on the shelf. Beds are made. An effort is made to educate themselves, and so on. It’s clear to me that these parents are able to run a tight ship because they live the ideals they expect from their children.

I remember when I first started this blog back in early 2009, I barely touched on discipline tactics. I even have a post called, “Where’s the Discipline?” If there’s one thing the Ezzos have taught me it’s that discipline doesn’t cure what ails us. There is a much larger foundation that must be laid before we can even think about disciplining our children. Once we set the stage for a harmonious household and model all of the behaviors we expect of our children, half the battle has been won.

I see this in my own children. If I’m messy, they’re messy. If I yell, they yell. They’re little mirrors or parrots, reflecting my behaviors right back at me. By the same token, if I work hard, they work hard. If I read, they read. If I have a clean house, they will keep their rooms clean. It’s so subconscious, but so powerful. We all adopt the behaviors and attitudes we see at home. We inherited a set of values from our parents, and in the same way, we are passing along values to our children, whether we choose to do so or not. So make it a point to live your best life and consciously model the behaviors and beliefs you wish to pass along to your children.

Holiday Behavior Problems?

Source: favim.com

How was Thanksgiving? Did your children handle the day with grace and gratitude? Or did you uncover new behavior problems amidst the holiday hubbub? It’s not unusual, particularly when we spend the holiday with many friends and family members, for our kids to act uncharacteristically.

There are several issues that contribute to this problem. As much as we may attempt to keep life consistent, big holidays often disrupt the routine, causing sleep and meal disruptions. The kids may get more sugar than usual. They may go to bed later than usual. They may sleep less soundly if they’re not in their own beds. (My kids sleep on the floor at Grandma’s house.) They might get too much attention from family members. Our usual parenting tactics may get disrupted, either on our own accord (being lax), or comments from others may undermine our efforts.

No matter the specific cause, we are left to deal with children who are not themselves. Whether they are showing behavior problems or attitude issues, our kids are behaving uncharacteristically. This can confuse the most well-meaning parent. What do we do with this child we don’t recognize? And how do we deal with behavior problems we’ve never encountered before?

The most important idea to remember is that you will have to put effort into retraining your child. Whether the child has picked up bad behavior habits from others or has created some of his own, commit to retraining those bad behaviors right out of him. If your lives were only disrupted for a day or two, you might only require that much retraining time. If you were out of town for a week or longer, the behavior problems will be more deeply ingrained, and you’ll likely need more time for retraining.

Now, you may also be thinking ahead to Christmas. If your family is like mine, the time spent with friends and family over Christmas is similar to Thanksgiving, only on a larger scale. Again, you may need to retrain your child. But if you’d like to prevent behavior problems from occurring during Christmas festivities, rather than retrain after the fact, you’ll need to address your child’s specific needs. For example, if your child is an introvert and there are 20 people in your house, you may give the child an extra room time session to help him gather the energy to face all the people.

A few considerations to prevent holiday behavior problems include:

  • Keep meals as consistent as possible, even if that means feeding the child before or after the main family meal. Set alerts on your phone for meals, snacks and nap times.
  • Keep bed and nap times as consistent as possible. It can be difficult to get children to bed at their normal bedtimes when so many others stay up hours later, but sleep is the top consideration when facing behavior and attitude problems.
  • Limit sugar. Allow the child a Christmas cookie or two, but not much more.
  • Limit food dyes.
  • Do your best not to relax too much during the holidays. Take turns with your spouse and do all you can to stay consistent and follow through on your word.
  • Limit the child’s freedoms. If he’s not allowed to wander the house at home, he shouldn’t be allowed to do so at Grandma’s.
  • Consider the child’s personality. If he’s an introvert, give him some quiet, alone time.
  • Consider the child’s love language. If he thrives on words of encouragement from you and you spend all day talking to adult relatives, he may act up.

If, despite your best efforts, your child shows behavior problems, act on them before they escalate. Deal with whining before it escalates into a tantrum. Deal with grumpiness before it turns into a fight with a family member. Keep your eye on your child, and quietly and politely excuse yourselves if you need to discipline him. Then commit to retraining him when you get home.

Happy holidays! :)

Babywise Week: Is Obedience Ever an Option?

Source: return2learn.org

It’s Babywise Blog Network Week again! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

· Monday: Valerie Plowman, Chronicles of a Babywise Mom
· Tuesday: Maureen Monfore, Childwise Chat
· Wednesday: Bethany Lynch, The Graceful Mom
· Thursday: Hank Osborne, Daddy Life
· Friday: Surprise guest blogger

 

One of the many ways we parents get into trouble with our children is by making obedience an option. Of course, we  never set out to make obedience an option, but unfortunately, it happens. It’s important to recognize the ways that we may communicate to our children that they have a choice when it comes to obedience. Then after recognizing those ways, we are better equipped to spot them as they pop up in our daily lives.

So how exactly do parents convey that obedience is an option? There are many ways.

Not giving instructions with authority

How do you sound when you give instructions to your child? Do you ever sound like you might as well put a question mark on the end of your instruction? Do you sound like this: “Johnny, it’s time to get dressed.” Or like this: “Johnny, we need to leave the house soon, and we all need to be dressed and ready to go, so go get dressed. Okay?”

There are two things wrong with this example. First, don’t feel compelled to give your child an explanation as to why you’re requiring him to obey an instruction. Knowledge is power, and he may turn that information back on you in an attempt to get out of obeying. He may argue that getting dressed doesn’t take much time, so he doesn’t really need to obey you right then. Simply telling a child to get dressed leaves no option for disobedience.

The second problem with the above example is that big fat “okay?” at the end. Don’t ask your child to obey. Don’t ask him if he agrees with you. Don’t ask him anything. Simply direct him and do it with authority. If you can’t quite get a grasp on your firm mommy (or daddy) voice, work on it and do it now. If you want an obedient child, you don’t have the luxury of being your child’s friend — at least not yet. You are his parent, and parents stand in a position of authority over their children. So dig deep and get a grasp on your authority.

Front-loading consequences

Another way parents make obedience an option is by front-loading consequences. By this I mean that we tell our children what their consequence will be if they disobey. Hopefully, whatever consequence we threaten will be one they won’t like, but we never can know for sure. By front-loading consequences, we give our children a choice. They can either obey, or they can choose the consequence which as been laid out neatly for them. They can weigh the odds. And they may in fact decide that they’d rather run around at bed time and miss story time than obey.

Repeating

How many times do you repeat yourself when giving your child an instruction? It can be so easy to repeat ourselves when our children don’t immediately obey. We may think they didn’t hear us or we may think that if we repeat ourselves with a more stern voice, they’ll be more likely to obey. Let me tell you that the opposite is true. When we repeat ourselves, we are training our children that they don’t have to listen or obey the first time. We are teaching them that we don’t really mean what we said the first time. Teach your child that you mean what you say. Don’t utter a word unless you are ready to follow through on that word. Train your child to obey your word among all else.

Threatening

Similar to front-loading consequences, threatening our children with consequences does not get them to obey. When our children learn that we don’t mean what we say, they learn that our threats are meaningless. Now, it’s one thing to warn a child of an impending consequence and another thing altogether to threaten one and never follow through.

“The mother who first coaxes, then threatens, then bargains, then pretends to punish, and finally punishes a little is only making a bad situation worse…. Lack of moral fortitude and resolution in the parents undermines obedience,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 124).

Parenting from the hip

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have a plan when teaching children to obey. Parenting from the hip only gets us into trouble. We must recognize our own fallibility. When we’re tired, hungry, or just plain grumpy, we cannot parent with a firmer hand. By the same token, if we’re in a good mood, we cannot let bad behavior slide simply because we don’t want to ruin the mood. Obedience cannot be subject to our mood or whim. If it is, our children will gauge our mood when deciding how important it is to obey. Children love to push the boundaries to see how flexible they are. If your boundaries are flexible based on your mood, your children will quickly figure it out.

Not only is this ineffective in teaching obedience, but it’s simply unfair to the child. Our children shouldn’t have to suffer the wrath of our mood. They should know what to expect; and they should expect that we will follow through every time. Have a plan and be consistent.

Bribing

Many of us know that bribes don’t help. But when we’re in the heat of the moment, thinly veiled bribes often escape our lips. We may not say, “Be good in the store and you’ll get a lollipop.” But we may say something like, “I expect you to be a good boy in the store today. You can do that, right? Good, then when we’re done, we might be able to get some special treats.” No matter how you phrase it, a bribe is a bribe.

Scare tactics are just as bad. “If you’re not good in the store today, the police will come and get you!” Or, “We’re leaving… We’ll see you later. I hope the store leaves the lights on for you tonight.” The fundamental problem with bribes and scare tactics is that we are teaching our children that we don’t mean what we say. We only expect them to be obedient to gain a reward (or avoid a scary situation). We are not expecting our children to obey simply because we expect them to.

Negotiating

When we give our children an instruction, there should be no doubt that we expect them to obey the instruction exactly as we give it. When we tell a child to clean up his room right away, he should do so right away. He should not be allowed to negotiate with us by telling us he’ll do it in 5 minutes. When we tell a child it’s nap time, he should not be allowed to tell us he’s not tired. When we agree to a dessert of one cookie, he should not be allowed to convince us that he deserves three cookies.

“When parents become characterized by continually accepting a negotiated compromise, they undermine their attempts to bring their child to first-time obedience. If all is negotiable, then no instruction is absolute. When we negotiate in the heat of battle, there is no true surrender,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 125).

Have no doubt: obedience requires submission.

If you ever wonder whether you’re undermining your authority and training your children not to obey, ask yourself whether you are training your child to obey your word. Whether you lack resolve and don’t follow through on your word or allow your child to negotiate with your instructions, take a minute to realize that the fundamental idea is that the child isn’t being taught to obey your word.

Remember this: “When you speak to your child in a way that requires an answer or action, you should expect an immediate and complete response,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 125).

Your children are capable of complete obedience. All you need to do is pave the way for them to get there, removing any obstacles that may give them the idea that obedience is an option.

 


This was a weighty post with a lot to think about. I can’t not end this post without mentioning my eBook. While I’ve given you ways to spot a lack of obedience, I haven’t really told you how to train our children to obey. This is where my eBook comes in. I’ve written several other blog posts on first-time obedience, but if you are looking for a detailed, day-by-day instruction manual on first-time obedience, check out my eBook. Endorsed by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo, Live in Harmony With First-Time Obedience: How to Use Love, Authority and Consistency to Teach Your Child to Obey the First Time, Every Time offers 112 pages of a detailed, step-by-step approach to creating an environment of peace, obedience and contentment in your home. Click on the above link to purchase and download it instantly, or download a sample to learn more. 

React swiftly but have a plan

Source: totallifecounseling.com

When our children misbehave, reacting swiftly and quietly can have a much greater impact than giving a warning or waiting to see if they’ll stop. But to react swiftly, we must have a plan.

For example, when you see your toddler throwing toys, I’m sure there’s no doubt in your mind that this is not a behavior you allow. I’m sure the child knows it as well. So what do you do? Do you tell him to stop? Do you plead with him? Do you try to reason with him?

Actions speak louder than words. So when you see such a behavior, simply stop what you’re doing and react swiftly but calmly. You might take your child by the hand and guide him to his room for a timeout. Or you might simply take the toy away. Guiding him by his hand without saying a word or even having an angry expression on your face will surprise the child. He won’t know for sure what’s going on until you sit him on his bed and walk away. It eliminates any chance for a tantrum or that spaghetti legs thing they know works so well.

By the same token, if you take the toy away, simply take it and walk away. If he knows he threw it and he knows it’s wrong, you taking it away will send the message. When he asks for it back, then you can tell him why you took it away.

You’ll notice that both examples, however, require having a plan. Acting calmly and swiftly can only happen if you have a plan. If you see your child throwing toys but aren’t quite sure what to do, you will hesitate and your actions won’t be as powerful. You might also think that reasoning with him will work.

Not having a plan will also increase the likelihood that you’ll act out of anger and frustration. And when they know they can get a rise out of us, some kids see that as score 1 for the child–not to mention the fact that correction done in anger is simply less effective.

“It’s natural for parents to react spontaneously to negative behavior. You see defiance and boom, you jump on it. But before you jump, you stop and think. You must act for the child’s good. Recklessly reacting in the heat of the moment isn’t the best plan.” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 135)

So take the time to think through your child’s most chronic misbehaviors and come up with a consequence for each. Then decide on your “go to” consequence for every other behavior problem that presents itself. We use timeouts as our “go to” consequence. Read more here on how to create a discipline plan.

Sometimes it’s better left unsaid

Source: dorrys.com

Do you have a child who easily tunes you out? Do you feel like all you do is repeat yourself? Do your words get the behavior and attitude that you want from your child?

Sometimes, it’s better if we keep our mouths shut. It’s so cliche, but actions do speak louder than words. There are several scenarios where staying quiet has more power:

  • Your child suddenly whacks his baby sister in the head. He knows better; you don’t need to remind him.
  • The child throws a toy across the room in a fit of rage. Quickly carrying him by the hand to his room for a timeout will speak volumes.
  • You tell him to wash his hands for dinner, and he turns around and screams “no!” in your face. There should be no question in anybody’s mind whether this is acceptable.

Imagine your toddler throws a fit in public. You might be tempted to give him a piece of your mind. Or you might want to ask the people nearby whose kid this is. It can be tempting to publicly admonish our kids because we want other people to know that we don’t let tantrums go unaddressed. But really, does the grocery store checker care how you parent your child? Probably not. And it’s bad enough that the people around you have to hear your screaming child. Do they really need to listen to your threats and demands?

Besides, our discipline is often much more effective when we don’t say a word. When he’s throwing a fit in public, simply take him by the hand, hold it firmly, and walk quickly out of the store. He’ll get the hint. Take him home, put him on his bed for a timeout, and then when he’s calm you can start talking. The other benefit of keeping quiet is that it keeps you from flying off the handle and threatening consequences that you eventually regret.

It’s also important to keep quiet when you’re about to hand over a logical consequence. If the child knows his behavior is wrong, don’t warn him. Don’t give him the option of choosing the consequence over obeying. React calmly and swiftly and he’ll be all the more respectful of  your authority. And if your child is in the middle of a tantrum, it’s especially important to keep quiet about consequences. Threatening consequences to a kicking, screaming child will not get him to settle down. It will only make him more mad.

So the next time your child frustrates, angers or embarrasses you, think twice before saying a word. If your child thinks you’re all talk and no action, the reversal of your ways will surprise him (in a good way).

 

Do you unknowingly negotiate?

Source: ideaspasm.com

Do you ever negotiate with your kids? Do you let them engage you in a negotiation conversation? We all know that negotiating with our kids is wrong, right? Parenting is not a democracy. Our kids’ votes do not hold equal weight with ours. But sometimes, it’s easy to get wrapped up in conversations that are thinly veiled negotiations.

Just recently, I noticed my husband getting caught up in a negotiation with our oldest. We’re weaning William off melatonin (which he needed for a while as a result of his sensory processing issues), and he’s been getting out of bed, impatient that he’s not falling asleep. I sympathize with the child since it can be hard to break an old habit. Honestly, it’s gotten to the point where the melatonin had greater psychological effects than anything else. Anyway, my husband brought William upstairs to put him back in bed, and I noticed that he got into a fairly long and involved conversation with William about it all.

My kids know they are not to get out of bed after we say good night. It’s never been much of an issue with William because the melatonin always put him to sleep right away. But still, he’s 8 now, and should know better. Nonetheless, my husband quickly got wrapped up in William’s pleading and complaining. It became a bit of a negotiation with William wanting to stay up late.

I take a very firm stance when my kids attempt to negotiate with me. I end the conversation before it even starts. If it were me, I would have said, “Good night, William,” in my I’m-done-with-this-conversation voice and closed his door.

Scenarios like this aren’t your typical negotiation attempts. When I think about negotiation, it’s the child trying to get 4 cookies instead of 2, and you agree to a compromise of 3. But with both scenarios, the parent is accepting something other than the original instruction.

After offering a scenario about a child wanting to play with his trucks during lunch, the Ezzos say:

“The issue is not whether playing with a truck at lunch is right or wrong, but whether his mom is characterized by always negotiating something less than her original instructions. When parents become characterized by continually accepting a negotiated compromise, they undermine their attempts to bring their child to first-time obedience. If all is negotiable, then no instruction is absolute. When we negotiate the standard in the heat of battle, there is no true surrender, only an agreed upon suspension of conflict. Without a complete surrender, there will always be a member ready to wage war,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 125).

That’s huge! Most of us know that negotiating with our kids is wrong, but have you ever stopped to think why? To think that it could completely undermine all of our hard work in first-time obedience makes the issue all the more important. If you’ve read my eBook, you know that saying what you mean and meaning what you say are crucial in setting the stage for first-time obedience. No child is going to obey you the first time if he can quickly and easily change your mind.

So stick to your guns and don’t let him negotiate with you! And be on the lookout for those conversations that seem like innocent conversations but are really negotiation attempts!

Are French parents better?

This is the question posed in a recent Wall Street Journal article discussing a new book, Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman. In the book, the author discusses French parenting and contends that American parents are much more lenient, yet also overly focused on child discipline.

The author’s basis for the book? She lives in Paris with her (British) husband and three children:

“A few years ago, while enduring nightmarish restaurant meals with her then-18-month-old daughter on a French seaside vacation, it struck Druckerman that the French children around them were all perfectly well-behaved. Thinking further, she realized she’d seen the same on French playgrounds and in her French friends’ homes,” (Wall Street Journal, “Are French Parents Better?”)

The book’s description notes that:

“The French children Druckerman knows sleep through the night at two or three months old while those of her American friends take a year or more. French kids eat well-rounded meals that are more likely to include braised leeks than chicken nuggets. And while her American friends spend their visits resolving spats between their kids, her French friends sip coffee while the kids play,” (Bringing Up Bebe).

Sound familiar? This is exactly the type of parenting the Ezzos have been espousing for decades. But what exactly is the difference between American and French parenting?

They call it the French parenting “secret” but it’s no secret at all. It’s the ability to set clear, firm boundaries for children from their earliest days.

According to the book, French parents also avoid child-centered parenting (again an Ezzo idea):

“[T]he French have managed to be involved with their families without becoming obsessive,” Druckerman writes. “They assume that even good parents aren’t at the constant service of their children, and that there is no need to feel guilty about this. ‘For me, the evenings are for the parents,’ one Parisian mother told me. ‘My daughter can be with us if she wants, but it’s adult time,’ ” (Wall Street Journal, “Are French Parents Better?”).

I’m intrigued by the author’s contention that French parents rarely discipline their children. Their consistent modeling of patience and obedience teaches children to do the same. In fact, French parents are puzzled by the American emphasis on discipline.

Druckerman says, “Instead they stress ‘educating’ their kids, meaning not schoolwork but a holistic way of showing and telling them what is and isn’t allowed. This means infractions that require American-style punishments are rare,” (Wall Street Journal, “Are French Parents Better?”).

This reminds me of the Ezzos’ approach to non-conflict training.

This quote from the book’s description sums it up nicely:

“Of course, French parenting wouldn’t be worth talking about if it produced robotic, joyless children. In fact, French kids are just as boisterous, curious, and creative as Americans. They’re just far better behaved and more in command of themselves,” (Bringing Up Bebe).

I love it!

It’s easier to do it for them

Source: parentclub.ganzworld.com

Have you ever fallen into the trap of doing things for your child simply because it’s easier? I know I have. But what are the effects of doing so? What are we teaching our children?

This issue came to a head for me recently. I tend to help Lucas with his shoes and coat simply because it’s easier and faster, particularly when we’re rushing off to school. Well, at school, they have been teaching him to do this for himself. One day, his teacher told me that he was very proud of himself after putting on his coat and shoes himself, but he quickly said, “Don’t tell my mom.”

The little stinker didn’t want me to know that he was able to put his coat and shoes on by himself! He wanted me to keep doing it for him!

The whole scenario made me laugh, but it also made me aware of what can happen by not requiring my children to do for themselves. There is a reason parents require their children to do chores. We want to teach them to take care of themselves, their things, and to help others.

Doing things for them is particularly problematic when we have instructed them to complete a task and then do it for them. We completely undermine our authority when we tell them to pick up their toys and then do it for them.

After describing a scenario where a child ignores his parents’ instruction to put away his clothes, the Ezzos say:

“Unfortunately, the parents themselves often encourage this behavior. Rather than dealing with the child’s disobedience, Mom gives up by folding and putting away the clothes for him. The reason for her actions is simple. Doing the task herself is much easier and faster than getting her child to do it. This decision also avoids conflict. The problem with her action is that it reinforces he child’s disobedience and teaches the child that if he waits long enough, someone else will do it for him!” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 129).

And ultimately, we want them to develop self-initiative to clean up after themselves.

“Prompted initiative is very good; self-generated is better and should be the goal to which every parent strives,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 129).

While we may need to prompt our kids to perform certain tasks, especially when they’re little, our goal should be to develop in them the initiative to perform chores and serve others without prompt from anyone.

You can imagine that there’s a wide gap between a child who needs a bribe to obey (as discussed in Monday’s post) and a child who takes initiative themselves to take care of themselves and their things. Imagine not even having to request that the child perform these tasks. It takes obedience out of the equation!