There is a lot of parenting advice out there. Some of it asked for, some of it unsolicited. Some of it is good. Most of it is bad.
Almost all of it is nowhere near my way of thinking.
But there are a few good pointers out there that help me along the way. Especially recently when my challenges with the kids’ behaviour has made me feel completely inadequate in terms of my parenting.
To get my kids back on track, and this family back into harmony, I remind myself daily hourly every few minutes that they WANT to be taken care of. They WANT clear and concise parenting. They WANT limits, and NEED them.
Sure they’ll test them. That’s ok. But the bottom line always comes back to this:
Does the child KNOW what you EXPECT of him?
Really, we as parents should be asking ourselves this question every time we bark some order at a child. Making an aside comment to a visitor that “my kid never puts his toys away like this kid does” is a true indication that her child has probably never been told that this is an expectation (put your toys away before you take a new one out), and that there is a consequence for not following through on the expectation (no you can’t have this toy, put the other toy back on the shelf first).
This is a very loose example and not necessarily a very good analogy. My own kids don’t have to put every single toy away each time they want to play with another one. But this example does illustrate that you MUST clearly explain what you expect of the child.
Our 5yo will challenge us regularly every single morning about his morning routine. He KNOWS what is expected of him (get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, brush hair). He even has a poster he can consult, with pictures, to remind him of what is required of him, EXPECTED of him, to complete his morning routine.
Why is he challenging us to the point of exasperation every single morning?
The answer is because he can. Because he has been allowed to, by us, his parents, to make this single and most frustrating fuss every single morning. He doesn’t even realize that because of this challenge, he sets the tone for the rest of us (and not to mention is giving plenty of fodder for the toddler to copy).
Getting him back on track to just getting those few items accomplished every single morning without challenge, fuss or drama has been, well, challenging, fussy and rather dramatic. LOL.
What it meant for us parents was that we have a less orderly morning routine ourselves because we are needed to help enforce the expectation.
“No, you can’t play with that car now, let’s go look at your poster what’s next”.
“No, put that car away. Until you comb your hair you will not play with your car”.
It means that I drink lukewarm coffee, sometimes don’t get a shower in, and often don’t get an opportunity to eat breakfast.
“I don’t know where your bag is, you know you have to get it ready the night before”.
“If you need help getting your bag, just ask me politely instead of whining and complaining about it”.
Ok, I realize that my system is less than perfect. But it’s a work in progress. The point I’m trying to make is that my kids have a tremendous amount of freedom, which is fine. They are in childhood, after all. But as they get older, they are required to be active participants in this family, and in this family, this means that at certain times of the day certain things must happen in order for the family harmony to remain in place.
Bath-time comes to mind.
Why do we have a whine-fest every single night about bath-time?
The reasons are the same as above. Because they CAN whine about it. That’s why.
We’re working on it. It’s slow and tedious. But I know that they will find their place. I will help them get there. Hopefully without stumbling on too many blocks along the way…