(See 6-Year Olds and Chores)
Today Payton got "Kitty" fresh water --- without any spills! He proudly reported his accomplishment with his hand up for a high-five stinger. Such enthusiasm for a job well-done --- this was a job I hadn't requested or reminded him to do. I had just woke up with a splitting headache --- the same one it seems I've had on-and-off for the past month. His happiness makes me smile. Things have changed here in the jobs area.
About 3 years ago, when my kids were around 3-years old, I was struggling big-time to become the parent I wanted to be. I expressed my exasperation with a good lady I was just beginning to get-to-know. She introduced me to Love and Logic. I devoured the parenting techniques they taught and began practicing those on my children. The results were wonderful.
Overtime, we sort of let those ideas fall to the wayside.
My husband and I have our own ideas of what a good parent needs to be like. Eventually, parenting became a battle and it didn't seem right to push so hard for what I wanted; although, it would certainly be a disservice to our children if I just gave up. So, how are we going to teach our kids? We needed some new ideas! I was given good suggestions and advice from some of my readers which I've seriously considered.
And then, of all things, we were reminded about the Love and Logic approach to parenting. (If you've experienced with it or listen to this audio, I would love to here your opinion on it.) One idea in particular was about giving children choices. This was once my favorite technique. It is to give your kids LOTS of choices ALL DAY LONG, choices, that as parents, we can be perfectly happy with either result, such as, "Do you want to put on your shirt first or your pants first?" This is suppose to help them feel like they are in charge, that they have some control over themselves. In the back of my mind, I thought of Payton shouting at us, "Why don't you ever let me do what I want?" Which, of corse, we do. But, in his little mind, we are making way too many demands comparatively. I couldn't wait to reintroduce this technique.
Another reminder was to let my kids make mistakes. I have been so focused on helping them be successful that I have forgotten that it is ok to let them learn from their mistakes. I guess it is mostly the sting I feel from those who see me mother this way, such as, sending my children to school in pajamas because they would rather play than get ready for school, letting them go without breakfast because they would rather go to school on an empty tummy than in their pajamas, not combing their hair because we don't have time to find the brush that didn't get put back away after brushing the doll's hair, not taking them to an Easter egg hunt because they refuse (for over 2 hours) to do a 5-minute pickup in their room, taking them back to pay for the 25¢ candy they stole (1/2 a dozen different times)... Is this really what a "good mother" does? Love and Logic convinces me that it is better that they learn from their (cheep) mistakes when they are little rather than when they are older and the consequences are much more severe.
Does this make me feel too strict? YES!!! Really, I don't want them to be embarrassed, I don't want them to miss out. So, what can I do? I figure I can do my best to make it possible for them to get their little things done. And empathy --- Don't forget the empathy! Always make the bad guy the unfortunate consequence of their choice; I should be there to love them through their suffering, hold them while they cry, but let the consequence of their action teach them.
The transformation has been greatest in Payton this week. The first choice I gave him was, "Do you want to run to the ice cream shop door or walk with me? At first, he looked at me questionably, then a huge grin came over his face when he said he wanted to run and he sped off. Although, he still puts up a stubborn attitude when I ask him to do a job (how do I embed this video?), he will, eventually, do it. And sometimes, like today, he will do one if his jobs without anyone asking. I guess that makes him feel like he's in charge.