'Brush your teeth well. You don't want to lose your teeth before their time!'
'Did you remember to close the tap? What? You DIDN'T?'
'Is your room neat? I am NOT picking up any more toys!'
Kids are wired differently. But, I'm guessing you know that by now. If you're a new parent, just stepping into those shoes, believe me, there are challenges ahead.
Trigger: 'Lack of interest' in performing tasks
Chores bore children. Yes, no question about it. If you 'tell' a child to do something, 8 times out of 10, it's not going to get done. And why should they do it? To them, it's a task and just the word has an annoying ring to it- full of responsibility, dedication and work! Nobody likes it, take it from me.
That's what frustrates parents too. They see a child's clothes on the floor, after they have explicitly told the child to put the dirty clothes in the hamper. They ask a child to leave the restroom as they found it, only to notice later that the child hasn't. They instruct a child to hurry up and finish a meal and come back 15 minutes later to find that exactly ONE morsel has gone in.
That does it! The child has 'wilfully defied' the parent! This sets off the trigger and soon, you have a full-scale attack on the child, who is reduced to tears, because Mom is busy yelling at him for not doing everything as he was told.
These are sample scenarios I have listed, some of which you can identify with and others you will agree with. What was clear from my journey was the fact that I was giving orders and expecting instant obedience. Well, guess what; this isn't the Army :)
As I moved ahead on this parenting path, one thing came to the fore. Every time I made something FUN for my daughter, not only did the task get done, it would be done at lightning speed and with a smile to boot!
What do I do now?
- I make funny faces: Yes, I know how that sounds, but it works. Trust me! If the child is not closing the tap after use, make a face and say that you're the tap, who is crying, because she forgot to turn you off. Kids laugh and do the job pronto :)
- I get down to her level: Instead of 'telling' her what to do, I ask her what she'd like to do. We discuss what would be the quickest way to pick up the toys. I suggest making a sound like a train, while she suggests prowling around like a tigress, picking up the scattered toys. We compete playfully and get the job done in half the time! That and a shared sense of responsibility work very well.
- I model the behaviour I expect: There's no way someone is going to do something, if they don't see it being done first. Kids are no exception to this rule. If I put my clothes in the hamper every single day, sooner or later (most likely, later), the child will get a feel for the routine and do it himself.
- I praise and reward: A few years ago, my husband picked up a Magnetic Responsibility chart, which has lovely reward icons with smiley faces on them for all chores. It's an easy way to give them non-material rewards without having to repeat yourself ad nauseum. The colours make it attractive and fun!
- I make tasks fun by making up a song: It's annoying to repeat yourself over and over again for mundane tasks. I get it. We have a hundred other things on our mind and this tardiness and lack of 'responsibility' just gets on our nerves! So, I recently came up with an idea to make up a rap song for simple chores. Here's one I created for brushing:
I've still got all my milk teeth, 'Yo!
Let's brush 'em up and make 'em glow!
I set it to a rap beat with my own beat box thrown in and she is up at 6 am, every single day, brushing and dancing her sleepy eyes away. No, you won't catch me ever singing that in public ;)
And , we know that a day that begins with a smile just HAS to get better as it progresses!
Somebody told me last week that it's important to put the fun back in Parenting. I have to agree that it's less stressful and a whole lot more enjoyable when we do that.
Here, each week, we will explore an aspect of positive parenting, a tool or a technique that has helped me in my journey. If you've visited before, you may be familiar with my Yelling Less journal. It was a week-long challenge that I undertook in July last year.
Ever since, it's been a series of management tips for various scenarios. I owe a lot of my gratitude toThe Orange Rhino, who was the original inspiration for my journey.
Do you have any ideas to add to the ones above?
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Labels: life lessons, Melissa Doug responsibility chart, Thoughtful Thursdays, tip sheet, Yelling, yelling less