Thursday, October 22, 2009

Well, There Goes That Theory

So I have had this idea in my mind that my kids cannot get things done on there own. Not only that but if they weren't doing it the way I would do it and in the time frame that I thought was reasonable they were going to fail.

I've been schooled! OR is it skooled?

Here's what happened. In Vicki Hoefle's Parenting on Track program (you didn't actually think I wasn't going to mention her did you?) one of the first thing she encourages from the parents is: do nothing and say nothing. For a week you nothing and say nothing to you kids. The practice gives you good information about what your kids can or are willing to do.

Now I've been "doing" the program for awhile. But it's really hard for me to keep my mouth shut! I just nag and badger, get frustrated and make everyone feel bad. Then I blame it on my kids that we are having a "bad" morning. And really it is my fault. So I decided that it was time to take the plunge. No Talking for me in the morning! And that is no small feat for me.

Here's what I wrote to Vicki on her Parenting on Track blog:

I wanted to share with you the experience I had this morning. It started with the alarm going off. My daughter (7) doesn’t really wake up to her alarm. So I went in to open the blinds and to tell her it was time to wake up. She had a really hard time getting up this morning. She was really tired. So I made sure she was awake enough, told her I was not going to wake her again.

I decided that today I was going to everything I could not to badger and nag her like I do most mornings. I got in the shower, got out, got ready myself, and went down stairs. She was still in bed and it was 7:15. Now that it is cold and dark in the morning she doesn’t want to get out of bed and complains about being cold. I understand that. But we have to walk out the door for school by 7:50 to get to school in time. I pressed my lips together and did what I needed to do to be ready in time.

She slowly came downstairs at almost 7:30. Argh… I almost opened my mouth, but didn’t. She wanted to talk and she doesn’t seem to be able to do that and anything else at the same time. I did tell her she could keep talking but she needed to do other things at the same time.

I continued to do what I needed to do, she kept doing what she needed to do. She came up to brush her teeth as I was getting the baby dressed. She was Brushing her teeth as I was walking down to get ready to get in the car. I was waking out the door to put the other 2 in the car as she was loading her backpack and getting her shoes on. Normally, I would be “encouraging” (read nagging) her to get moving. But I didn’t, I just kept moving. Normally, when I nag, she gets upset and begins to get negative and upset. Today she just stayed focused and got the job done. I decided I would just get in the car and wait for her to be there. She got in the car and we were ready to go at 7:51. I can’t believe it. She short changed herself so many minutes and she was still ready on time!! When I dropped her off she said, “Oh, no snack today. I forgot to pack one.” Just matter of factly, no tantrum. When the mood is already darkened, by me, she fusses and cries about things like that.

So a quick run down. Me+ no nagging+ patience= happy, un-pressured daughter who is ready in time!

This is what I have wanted morning to be like. I was always so worried about her not getting to eat, going unprepared, forgetting things, not brushing her teeth. In the end none of that matters. Like you always say, it’s the relationship that matters most. When I choose not to fight or badger or nag; I am choosing the relationship. She was in charge of herself this morning and everything worked out better than when I get involved! As I just step out of the way things work out the way I wanted them to all along!

I did ask her what time it was a couple of times. BUT both times I really couldn't see a clock. I do admit that I did do it partly to get her to be aware of the time, but it was for me as much as for her. Usually I remind her to keep track of her time. This worked much better.

Thank you again for sharing the skills with me!

Here was Vicki's response:

Hallelujah Sista.

Gosh, it takes so much courage for parents to step out of the way. And look what happens. Congratulations. Now, be prepared for some slipping backwards and do not pay any attention to it.

Now that you know she CAN, set that image in your mind and do not, under any circumstances, let it go. Keep it. Keep seeing this capable child repeating this exercise in independence until that is who she becomes.

Oh the joy of parenthood. Thank you so much for sharing.

I've also let her go to school without her homework folder, haven't nagged her about doing her homework (which she didn't do at all for a week), didn't "encourage" her to study for her spelling test, haven't "reminded" her to pack her lunch or backpack.

It's not easy. Today was not pretty. Well, it wasn't that bad, but I did start to nag a bit. It's hard not to when they go through the house like a cyclone and don't seem to see the mess they are making let alone pick it up. It's not easy to watch them dink around when I know they want to get up to the library for story time. They ask if they can go but don't do what needs done so we can get there on time.

Yes, I get frustrated. Yes, I get tired. But at the end of the day I know that this way is better. It makes my family happier. And I choose the relationship with my kids over the stuff in our lives. They will get it, it's just baby steps for all of us!


Vicki said...

You are funny. Telling on yourself. I don't believe for one minute that you are as bossy as you claim to be. I didn't witness your Bossiness ONCE while I was with you. Kisses to all. Enjoy this magical weather we are having.

Sarah said...

I was on my best behavior while you were here Vicki. I'm sure in time you will see that bossy side of me...or maybe not. Maybe I'll move beyond it, let's hope.