Stop Repeating Yourself A Gazillion Times

20130421-233827.jpgWe’re usually blowing a head gasket before we realize we’ve been repeating ourselves for the last hour. It creeps up on you. You may be giving out a task to your children as you go about your business, but you don’t realize it hasn’t been completed until you pass by your child- still idle. You remind your child of the task again… and again, only to find out it’s still not accomplished. Eventually, your blood pressure rises and you find yourself asking, “WHY ARE THERE STILL TOYS ON THE FLOOR!?!”

1. Make sure your voice isn’t background noise. Put your hand on their shoulder, squat down, and look them in the eye. Once they are looking back at you, then give them direction.

2. Go for the awkward silence. After making eye contact and giving them their chore, keep looking at them and wait for them to start. They will realize that you are waiting for them to get on it, and begin to move.

3. “Yes Sir/Ma’am” Chart. I got this idea from the Duggars. That fantastic family of 19 well-behaved children. Each child gets a blank chart, and every time they respond with a “Yes, Ma’am!” or “Yes, Sir!” they get to mark an “X.” If they fill up all their boxes, they get to choose a prize out of our “prize bucket” (which I fill with dollar store treasures). This has two great effects. First, it teaches your child that beautiful phrase, “Yes, Ma’am/Sir,” and secondly, it encourages cheerful obedience.

4. Check their work. Create a habit of following up on their work. The more often you check to see if they did it right (or at all), the more often they will follow through correctly.

5. Mean what you say. Let’s admit it. We say a lot of things that we don’t really mean. Ask yourself, do you really care if they follow through or not? If it’s not that big of a deal that they pick their blanket up off the floor, communicate it that way. “I don’t really like looking at your blanket, would you mind putting it away?” But if it’s essential, choose your words differently. Use your “Please go do this now” tone sparingly. If your serious tone is overused, then it won’t be taken seriously.

6. Enforce. Name a consequence that will be given if the chore is disobeyed or ignored. Maybe a spanking, or a removal of privileges. If they don’t complete the task in the allotted amount of time, follow through with the consequence. (But remember, don’t threaten if you don’t intend to follow through!)

7. Praise generously. Nothing will motivate them to want to work hard for you like making a big deal out of their obedience. Hoop and holler, give out hugs, kisses, high fives, and loud “Well Done’s!” They will learn to take pride in their work if you are proud of their work.

Give Them Choices

148One piece of advice stood out to me when reading Parenting by the Book by Rosemond:

The parent’s job is to train their children to make good choices. 

I’ve learned to give them an array of mini-choices in their pre-school ages. I’ll give them two options, “You can wear this or that, it’s your choice.” But before I set them free to choose, I offer my advice: “If you wear this, it won’t really match, and it will look a little weird. But if you wear this, it will look very cute.” In a more serious situation, it may sound like this: “You can choose to share or not, but if you choose not to, tomorrow no one will be allowed to share with you.”

There’s limits to this freedom, of course. On picture day, I’m going to override my daughter’s privilege to choose to wear a baggy red t-shirt, pink skirt, and snow boots. But in general, feeding my children bits of age-appropriate freedom has kept them from biting at the bit, and fighting me on all my rules. It helps them realize that they are responsible for their actions, and causes them to come to us for help, which is exactly what we are hoping for.

If we can inspire them to make good choices now, then we can look forward to watching them make good choices when they are grown.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6