Parenting Breakthrough Alert!

Alert! Alert!

This parent has made a breakthrough.

And it’s too good not to share!

First of all, praise God for answered prayers that come in the form of small victories throughout our lives. Secondly, thank God for counseling which helps us set a healthy(ier) tone in our home.

Ok, so back to the breakthrough.

Your kids might never be difficult or argumentative. If they aren’t then praise you noble one. You need not read on. But if they are, this article is for you!

My loins created an offspring that can argue and complain about ANYTHING. It might be genetic, but if so, I am claiming it skipped a generation. My parents would probably beg to differ.

This A&C (arguing and complaining) has become so rampant that I am constantly ready for it. I brace myself for battle every time I tell this child to do something, anything. My chest tightens, my shoulder spasms, and I already have a list of consequences locked and loaded to fire at him. A battle of the ages always occurs. The family members become irritated and tense, yelling occurs, the boys get at each other, and everyone gets in trouble.

It straight up sucks.

So today I had a calm and bright moment. I was in the shower, where all good ideas occur, and I realized something: He ALWAYS does the chores eventually (or almost always) and he usually even apologizes for acting like a mad man. But this middle step wrought with drama is unraveling our peace of mind and causing him to be on an endless roller coaster ride of losing his privileges. A classic lose-lose.

So here’s the short version of what I said:

  • Let’s talk. This is not a lecture. Your thoughts are as valuable as mine. I am here to help you.
  • I’ve noticed a pattern: I tell you that you have chores, you get angry (add in a bunch of angry steps-throwing, slamming, bad words), then you later calm down and do the chores, but you don’t get the same reward for the chores as you would have (such as an allowance, iPad time, or the freedom to choose how you spend your free time.)
  • So now we have to figure out how to skip the A&C and move towards compliance and the rewards that come with it.

He agreed. Ok, now we’re cooking.

So here’s what we decided on:

  • This is kind of like driving a golf cart and seeing a tree coming up quickly in your path but driving into the tree anyway. The tree represents the A&C and the consequences that occur.
  • We agree there are two things you (child) can do:
    • Pump the breaks
    • Steer away from the tree
  • Pump the breaks means
    • Stop-don’t respond
    • Think-Is arguing going to help?
    • Listen-Listen to mom before reacting.
  • Steer away from the tree means
    • Look for the positive in the situation verses the negative
    • Remember the reward: money and free time (being the main ones for him)

I could see it click for him. He saw the tree and the clear path and he got it. He said emphatically that he’d rather stay on the clear path because he could see something he wanted. FREEDOM.

Well, well, well. I think we are making progress.

So we started over. We pretended like he didn’t already lose his cool this morning over a few simple chores. I told him he had a few things to do. I laid out the freedom that would follow. He complied. And now I am typing.

I know, I know. This is basic parenting stuff. But I do stuff like this a lot and it doesn’t always pan out. The difference was two-fold. We decided to fix this TOGETHER and we could mutually see a solution and looked like JOY for both of us.

Our opposing values were no longer like magnets with one turned in the wrong direction, bouncing off of each other. He turned his magnet around, not because he had to (clearly HAD to wasn’t working so far) but because he WANTED to. He sees something he wants, and he is driving toward it, avoiding trees that will wreck HIS journey.

And so I finished with this:

Me-Hey bud, so you’re on your path to freedom, you have a clear path in front of you, and there are flowers along your path. What do you think those flowers represent?

Him-You?

Me-Yes, me and your family smiling at you and supporting your journey.

Guess who hugged me? Yeah. That kid 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Parenting Breakthrough Alert!

  1. Good stuff! I like that strategy!! I just had a humbling parenting experience recently. My boy (also know for A&C) had a major project due. I spoke with other parents and their kids had hunkered down and finished. Mine was no where near finished. So I stressed, compared, yelled, and threatened him all the way to the day before the deadline!! He was completely unfazed. At 9pm the evening before it was due, he says – it’s done. I demanded to see his “finished product” expecting the worse. But what I read really humbled me. It was well written, thought out, and showed a deep level of analysis. I actually learned a few things reading his work!!! Go figure! You see I wanted him to do the project on my terms (and those of other kids in his class). But doing it on his terms turned out just as well, if not better. As parents, sometimes we need to trust that there is a “method to the madness.” Loosen the grip a tad bit and trust a little more – within reason of course! Wouldn’t it be so much easier though if each kid came with a personalized instruction manual specifically for them? Ah well…. Hats off to the “trial and error” method of parenting!

    1. As a control freak by nature I can totally understand that! And I have a similar story that I plan to share about my son and his struggle with his academic performance. But I think your advice is spot on for so many of us who are struggling to hold it all together.

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