Monday, May 23, 2011

Parenting and Habits

I'm noticing as my kids get older that I'm not so much into the "life skills" lessons that I once was.  Part of that is because I'm not consistent enough (my weakness).  But what I'm realizing for myself is that I'd rather go back to the basics of simply training HABITS in my kids (a Charlotte Mason idea).  I'm noticing (and the article on parenting I just posted about reinforced what I've been thinking) that the things that bug me the most and cause the most nagging from me toward my children are the little things that don't get done around the house.  For instance, how hard is it to turn off a light when you leave a room, throw away your banana peel when you're done with it, and put your piano books away after practicing?  These are the things I maybe should have focussed on in a more productive way than I have (because my oldest is 11!).  These are things I failed to focus on when they were little and yet I expect them to "just do it" now that they are older.  I guess when they were little I just expected them not to remember these little details OR it was just easier for me to do it all myself.  Maybe it's because I had so many so close together. 

After reading the article on parenting I was struck by one main principle:  You only need to TEACH once.  The rest of the time you simply need to reinforce with consistent consequences.  It seems so simple, but it's so dang hard for me!  I'm such a talker.  I nag, preach, teach over and over.  I like how the author signified that all the re-teaching does is tell the kids they can't think for themselves, like they're too unintelligent to remember the first time.

The other thing I liked about the article was that we can/need to expect our kids to fail.  I think for me, when I see my kids fail at doing something I taught them, it's somehow a reflection on my lack of teaching (even though I know I taught them).   Does that make sense?  And so I express frustration towards them when they fail, when in reality I'm frustrated partly with myself for not teaching them properly.  Again, I just expect them to do it and to do it perfectly when I ask them to do something .. . forgetting that there needs to be a training process first.  I forget that I  had to learn things line upon line . . . and even then I still don't do everything right.   

So, I now have two main goals:  1) Stop nagging & start teaching more effectively with consequences;  2) Focus on the smaller habits rather than trying to tackle all of the bigger lessons (for now). 

  p.s. this is all going to start after the baby comes...because right now I'm too tired!  :-)

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