Help for the Frazzled Mom!
Based on Dr. Glenn I. Latham's book The Power of Positive Parenting
"Behave well. Good parenting is first a matter of teaching, second a matter of modeling, and never a matter of reacting." Dr. Glenn I. Latham
Yes, I already know I have been a real slacker when it comes to writing this weekly post lately! My problem has been not only is it summer and it seems all schedules go out the window (do you know how many times I have forgot the boy's piano lessons and scouts already?!!!) and on top of that for some reason it seems my Wednesday's are always craaaaaaaazy!
Yes, I know you are thinking that maybe I should just write this post on another less busy day, and I would totally agree with that logic, except I haven't been able to find another less busy day! So, I hope you will forgive me if you have come here seeking great help from Dr. Latham's wonderful advice and left empty handed. I promise I will do better! In fact I even started writing this on Wednesday....it is currently 11:55 p.m., but still Wednesday! I wonder if I can finish it in five more minutes??? Highly doubtful, but I will try! If not, I will still publish it as if it were really completed on Wednesday. But that is our little secret!!! Shhh......
Okay down to business.
One of the greatest things I learned from Dr. Latham was to clearly establish and communicate our expectations to our children. It really seems like such a no brainer and a very simple thing to do, but it is so often overlooked by us as parents. Don't you like to be told what is expected of you when you are doing something? I think we all do. Otherwise it is left to us to figure it out on our own and the way we think it should be done may not always be the way others want it to be done.
For example when your children are busily engrossed in their play or in something else, give them a little warning before they need to stop. If they are going to have to clean up their toys or stop doing something, then when it is 10 minutes before it's time to do that, tell them that they have 10 more minutes before it is time to stop and ask them how much time you said they have and have them repeat it back. Give them another warning at five minutes and ask once again how much time before they need to stop. That always makes the transition go so much more smoothly.
Dr. Latham suggests that we communicate clearly to our children what our expectations are and then always have them repeat them back to us. That way we know that they understand what we expect and it also reinforces it to them.
"Johnny, I need you to be home tonight at exactly six o'clock and not one minute later so you can get ready to go the program with us." Johnny responds with, "Yeah, yeah, okay mom." Then you say, "Johnny what time do I need you to be home tonight?" To which he replies, "Six o'clock...I heard ya, I got it." You then follow it up with a comment that reinforces your expectations once again. "Thank you Johnny, I am so glad I know I can depend on you to be home at six o'clock."
If we don't communicate what we want to happen then we really have no one to blame but ourselves. It is too much to ask for children to know in advance what is expected of them if we never TELL THEM! And always have the child show his understanding of the expectations by repeating them back to you. Here's some more dialogue of how it might sound.
"Sara, I need you to clean up the mess in here by folding and putting away all the blankets, putting away the games, and taking the dishes upstairs before dinner."
"Okay mom, I will in a minute."
"What do I need you to do Sara?"
"You want me to clean up this mess."
"Yes, you are right. But what exactly do I want you to do?"
"You want me to fold the blankets, then put them away and then put away all the games too."
"That is great! But there is also one more thing I need you to do."
"Oh yeah, and take the dishes upstairs."
"You got it! Thank you so much for doing those things before dinner. I really appreciate you being so responsible and helping out."
I am always amazed at how much faster things get done when I clearly state my expectations and then have my boys repeat those expectations back. Once that is done there really is no room for miscommunication. It is so worth the extra few minutes it takes.