I am all about consistency. Children thrive on routines, structure, and boundaries; we all know that. But, today I am here to tell you that sometimes the rules and plans change. Just like a classroom with their teacher, kids just get too comfortable sometimes and you have to tighten up the reins from time to time. Parents are the full-time teachers and guidance counselor and sometimes we have to adjust and change our rules too.
Welcome to the last 3 weeks of summer preparing you for school, kids. Wake up call! You don’t always get to do what you want. You don’t call the shots. Life isn’t all about having fun 24-7! There are rules and expectations in this house that you seem to have conveniently forgotten. Well, I’m here not only to remind you but also to up the ante!
Sadly and but also predictably, my children came back from our road trip out West to the same old habits, treating each other like frenemies! On our trip of a week and half, lots of hours in a car, and even sharing a hotel bed, they acted like best friends. They didn’t fight and barely disagreed. It was amazing. It was refreshing. In short, it was magical.
But, in reality, they often dislike each other and usually nitpick. It’s probably just more annoying now because I see they are capable of acting and doing better. That is if it’s non-stop action and fun, of course. So, today, it was typical that they started their day bickering and fighting except that I’ve had enough. It’s time for some change in this house.
We do have rules posted in our kitchen. We have for awhile but do they know them by heart and follow them? (in a perfect world….I wish!) With all this fighting and nagging to get basic tasks done (Brody), I have had enough and teacher-mom is back to end the summer with school-prep. As of this morning, the rules have changed at my house.
- All electroincs, including t.v., must be earned. Their behavior and compliance of the rules determines whether they get the chance to earn electronics.
- Their behavior must be an 8/10 or higher to get the opportunity. I rate their behavior based on how well they are choosing to follow the rules. (I’m fair and they actually understand this concept because they trust me. We do this with feelings too. The scaling system really helps with understanding feelings and behavior if you explain and show them what the scale looks like, from following first request, following the rules and being kind at a 10, and physical fighting or ignoring a parent being at a 0; or, from feeling happy and excited at a 10, a 5 feeling ok or stressed and a 0,1, 0r 2 for feeling sad or scared, for example.) It works!
- 2 chores+ 30 minutes of learning+ 8 or above in behavior= free time!
- More complaining= more chores.
- No fighting. Period.
Basically and simply put, if I am happy, then they are happy. If I am not happy, there’s a consequence. Sometimes, I think we must reevaluate as parents. I don’t want to waste my time feeling frustrated, repeating myself, and nagging so I won’t. If something isn’t working, ask, ‘what can we do to fix this?’ Just like a teacher rearranges desks and changes the reward or discipline system mid-year to keep things fresh, as parents, we need to change things up from time to time too. With age, kids change and so should expectations. Change is not always a bad thing if it’s fair and done with good intentions.
After a stern talking to and an explanation of the new-ish rules, they straightened right up and even seemed happier. Will they act perfect? No, but I won’t either. I’m not always an 8 but then again, sometimes I don’t always get to do what I want either. Parenting is yin and yang; it’s a balancing act and you gotta’ have both love and discipline. But, if you want more light than dark, then make the light happen. We don’t have to be at the mercy of their hormones or growing pains. Sometimes, we must take the reigns and make the change that will ultimately help them and us feel happier!