Keep Calm &…Oh F*** It: Part 2

Hello again!

It’s Monday morning and I am snuggled up on my couch underneath a thick, fuzzy blanket in an ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ sweatshirt and yoga pants, nursing a hot cup of coffee while my kids (who are out of school this week for Thanksgiving break) nestle behind the couch to watch movies on the iPad despite the fact that they have an entire room in the back of the house with all their toys, a couch, and cable TV. One day they’ll be telling their grandchildren all about the woes of being a child raised in the 21st century and one of their struggles will be something like, “when it was cold outside and our mom was babysitting, five of us had to scrunch up around a portable 9 inch screen to stream movies on Netflix and we had to take turns picking the movies!” *gasp* I can’t imagine the terrible scars this will leave upon their delicate souls. Years of therapy await them, I’m sure. Can you feel my eyes rolling? If not, let me help you envision it:

I don’t mind it though because I can hear everything that’s going on and it gives me the time and quiet I need to make this post. Yes, I’m letting the iPad temporarily babysit my kids and nieces. If you didn’t judge me after Part 1 of this series, please feel free to do so now.

Speaking of judging, we tend to do this a bit too harshly to each other don’t we? Often, judgment goes hand in hand with assumption and your kids are no exception to this. Maybe they made a mess, spilled something on the table, or neglected to put away the laundry after you asked. Often, we assume it’s just because they’re not listening, or simply because they chose not to obey. We think we have to open the Crazy Box to get things done.

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I feel like ^^ this ^^ from time to time. Okay…often. I feel like this often.

The trouble is that when we assume, we don’t take the time to get to know the real reasoning behind the things our children do and say. We don’t think, we just react. We presume to already know the answer and so we don’t need to discuss it, ask questions, or try to make sense of it; we just want our kids to do what they’re told, right?

But…why?

Do we always want to just do what we’re told without knowing the reason for it? Do we want our kids to blindly do what they’re told in every situation? We’re always telling them, “if so-and-so jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?” They might if that’s what they’ve always been taught: to listen, obey and just “do as you’re told.” Sometimes that can be very dangerous; how can our kids differentiate if we don’t teach them? We want them to be their own people. We want them to be independent thinkers & not follow the crowd, to not be afraid to ask questions…until it’s inconvenient for us.

We want them to trust and obey us as their parents, their teachers, ‘the authority figure’…and somehow they’re still supposed to learn to be free thinkers, to inherently know what to do, what not to do, which friends are good influences, which are not, which adults are trustworthy and which ones are not, when to just obey & when to ask questions…all without us giving them the opportunity to learn these skills at home or at school? We have a tendency to give ourselves room for error and growth while expecting other people, even our kids, to already be perfect; to know better.

I’m not saying you should have to break down every little thing for your child. They should just do what you asked out of respect for you whether they understand it or not, but this is not an ideal world and what people should do and what they actually do are often two very different things.

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A relationship of trust has to be built before this can happen. I’m more likely to do something that is asked of me without question when it has been made clear to me that the person asking is someone I implicitly trust. The parent-child relationship is so special & unique because trust is an innate emotion between the two, but it is not automatically given in any other relationship. In every other relationship on the planet, you have to earn it. With your kids, you just have their trust automatically (isn’t that amazing?!) from the day they’re conceived…until you break it, (or until they break yours) and then it must be earned back. In the case of my kid, and many others, it’s not necessarily always an issue of trust…she just needs to know the why’s and how’s of something for it to make sense to her, and once it makes sense she’s more inclined to do what I’m asking her to do.

I have been guilty of this before, but I am not typically a “because I said so” kind of mom. I try to explain and to understand before I react. Sometimes I fall way short of this, but that’s because I’m human and I’m a work in progress. When that happens, I’m not above apologizing for it. I try to remember that the few extra seconds it takes to explain something to my child is so much better than arguing unnecessarily over it; things get done much faster and my household runs more smoothly when I take that little bit of extra time.

Additionally, some kids need problems to solve, not just chores to do.

{Example: I very recently learned that Princess Sassypants will wash dishes happily if I tell her, “I really need you to do this because we have somewhere to be in an hour and the dishes need to be done before we leave. You do such a good job at washing them; you’re so much more careful and thorough than your brother and your sister is still a little too young to handle knives.” This way she feels like she’s special because

A.) I’ve chosen her specifically because she does a better job than someone else and

B.) she’s being helpful to and protective of her sister who might get cut.

She feels proud of her accomplishment and she knows that I notice and value her efforts. Okay, so it’s a little manipulative, but it’s positive manipulation if that helps. 😉 }

Children need to feel like they’re needed and valued versus feeling like they’re just there for you to boss around and yell at. You like to feel needed and appreciated, right? What would give you the impression that your child doesn’t want or deserve the same?

Yes, it’s frustrating when I have to ask my kids to do things repeatedly, but that’s when I have to remind myself to take a deep breath, get their attention and calmly (but firmly) remind them. Then after they’ve done it, I ask them, “is there a reason you didn’t do that when I asked you to?” I don’t always succeed at this, but I try to steer clear of “why didn’t you do what I said?!” because that sounds accusatory and they won’t give me an answer. By wording it the other way they feel like I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt, they’re not being accused of anything or blamed, and they’re more likely to answer me. “Because I had to use the bathroom and when I got back I started playing and I just forgot.” That isn’t an excuse I want to hear every single time I ask them to do something, but it does seem valid on occasion, especially when you consider the person I’m asking is an 8 year old girl with the attention span of a squirrel or a ten year old who is a bit forgetful and scatterbrained like her mother. She gets it honest. Yelling at them won’t make them feel anything good, and it likely won’t improve the strong-willed child’s behavior in the future either, AND – to put it bluntly – it’ll make you (& everyone who had to listen to it) feel like shit(take mushrooms). So what’s the point? It’s a pretty useless thing to do all the way around. That’s when you come up with a game plan (like “next time put the laundry away before you go to the bathroom” or something that works for your family), then let them know that this excuse isn’t going to be acceptable next time and just move on. It doesn’t have to be an argument and no “crazy boxes” need be opened or “Oh, F*** It” moments had. 🙂

Of course, everyone is going to open their crazy box every now and then. Even your kids have OFI moments. Allow them room for error. Give them room to behave like the beautifully flawed humans that they are, but teach them how to use that experience to prepare themselves to react better in the future. You don’t have to excuse their behavior, but do let them know that it’s okay to feel whatever they feel; it’s how they react, it’s how they use that emotion that matters. Teach them to use every mistake as a learning opportunity so they can continually grow. If it takes a little more understanding and explanation on your part, so be it.

More than anything, though, remember to model it for them. Apologize to them when you have an OFI moment and forgive yourself for not being perfect, let them see you not repeating the same mistakes in the future. Let them see you changing and even if they don’t change, your understanding of and respect for each other will, and that will cause your relationship to blossom. 🙂


 

Have you had any moments where you’ve simply reworded something to get a better result? Are there moments you can remember where a simple change of verbiage or attitude would have changed the outcome of a situation or prevented an argument? Do you have questions about how you can better manipulate your children use your words & attitude to get the result you want? I may be able to help you with your manipulation wording, which will in turn help me with mine. It’s really hard to remember to implement some of these things when you’re smack in the middle of a real-life, stressful, tear-your-hair-out, F***-it-all moment, but the more we think about and prepare ourselves for these things the more chances we have of remembering them when we find ourselves in a situation where we might need to use it. So, go ahead…*therapy voice* what’s on your mind?

 

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2 thoughts on “Keep Calm &…Oh F*** It: Part 2

  1. I really believe in the modelling thing – do as I say, not as I do just doesn’t work with kids. Sure, sometimes they just need to
    Do
    What they are told. It’s a tricky journey to
    Learn when it’s ok to disagree. But they can get there…and so can we!

  2. Pingback: Keep Calm &…Oh F*** It Part 3 |

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