Monday, September 15, 2008

Teach Your Children Well

I'm working on parenting my children. A change in season or schedule usually creates for me a new perspective and a renewed effort to attack problem areas. By the end of summer we (the kids and I) were on each other's last nerve ... and I wasn't tolerating it very well. Now I'm making a renewed effort to address problem areas. Ripley's new Montessori School has also inspired me to encourage the boy's (Ripley 3 7/8 and Benjamin 9) independence. I'm all for that!
Here are some tools / ideas that I've found work very well (particularly during the school year):
  • Set their clothes out the night before when you tuck them in. The rule is: You must come downstairs fully clothed before you get milk and breakfast. (The milk / breakfast part is a big motivator) If your children are 3 1/2 or older and don't dress themselves, start working on it with them. They should be able to do it and WOW what a time saver in the morning. Dirty clothes must go in the hamper. Bed "made".
  • Disagreements: At the parent orientation at the Montessori School, Ripley's teachers explained that they have the 3-5 year olds in the class "work out" their disagreements by themselves. The person who feels "wronged" in some way is given a "Peace Rose". They get to explain why they are upset, then the other person gets their turn with the peace rose and can talk about things from their perspective. Then, they come up with a compromise. This seems like it might be asking a lot of a 3 year old, but let me tell you -- the boys have been "taking turns" talking through an issue and it's been working!!! In less then 2 minutes both parties usually have apologized and moved on! Wow. I was getting way too many "MOMMY!!!" screams or "Mmmmmoooommmmmmmmmmmmmiiiiiiiieeeeeeeee" whines -- like lobbyists in Washington begging me to get involved in their cause. I would jump in, my blood pressure would rise, their voices would increase in volume and intensity to try to convince me they were right ..... ugh. Stressful. If you have children who can communicate with each other, give it a try. It works!
  • OK this is classic. It works with my very boyish 9 year old. I don't know about you, but my 9 year old loves to go outside, run around, dig in dirt, mess in puddles of water -- like he is 4. Good clean fun. Well, maybe not clean. This boy is not prone to being neat. Without thinking he will not only play in dirt, trees, water, etc., but he will wear the dirt and water like he's 2. My "beef" with that is, I feel like he doesn't consider the people who have to clean up after him ... like he's a billionaire with a full-time maid service. He will stain brand new clothing without a second thought. The discussion I've had with him is: If you were living in the Northwestern mountains of China and only had one pair of pants, you would treat them like gold -- like your most treasured possession. I'm a BIG fan of playing -- but there is nothing wrong with respecting your possessions and most definitely other's possessions. ANYWAY ... if he treats his clothes with disrespect he has to get out laundry soap and scrub by hand the knees (of his pants for example) until the dirt is out. He's starting to think twice before diving up to his neck in mud.
  • Another clothing issue, do your kids start playing in a pool or puddle of water -- get wet -- then they want to come inside and put on new clothes? Just what we need, more laundry to clean. (back to that full time maid service remark earlier) The deal I have is: If you want to put on fresh clean clothes, you have to help me with the laundry -- like folding. Sometimes he goes for it, other times he sticks with a little moisture around the wrists, and hopefully he's thinking before he literally puts his whole arm -- sleeve and all -- into the little turtle pool in the back yard.
  • Have the kids help out around the house. Both of my kids love to help. Here are some good -- actually helpful -- ideas. Have the kids strip their beds when it's time to wash the sheets. Have the kids ... young and old ... sort socks and fold them together. Have your kids fold towels, wash clothes, rags and cloth napkins - older kids can fold the clothing too. Of course the more obvious like set the table ... 3 year olds can do this easily. Clear the table. For the older ones ... load and unload the dishwasher. A popular one ... wash and vacuum the car. (of course conserve water please) Help weed the garden (my personal favorite).
  • If you want to bring that toy into my car you MUST take it with you on the way out. I swear, in no time my car can look like a bad yard sale.

These are the ideas that are in the forefront of my mind. I'll add as I think of more. Do you have any suggestions to add? I'll put them in.

Be well!


a. borealis said...

You are WAY more experienced than I in the realm of mothering, but the Love & Logic audio discs I picked up at the library cover all ages. I'm not sure if you've run into L&L before, but WOW! I've really liked what I've heard so far.

Sandy said...

Thank you for the recommendation! I too take BIG advantage of the library "network" forwarding things from all over the state to our little local library. I'll check them out.