Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year, New Rule

I should just fess up right now. There is, from time to time, a bit of yelling that occurs in Kidletville. I am embarrassed to admit it, but I am a yeller. And I hate it. I hate that my kids, who are both in school all day, are home with me, awake, for a grand total of 5 hours a day and I spend at least a combined total of an hour yelling about something. That’s not a productive use of our time. And it’s definitely not fun. Even worse, I’m setting an example for them that makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t want them yelling at my grandkids like this.

If you are a yeller, too, you’re probably defending me right now, and for that, I thank you. But the truth is, there are other ways for me to get the kids to do the things that need doing. So after a lot of thinking, we’re starting with a mission statement. I wish I could take credit for this, but once again, I must bow down to the power of pinterest. Unfortunately, I can’t find the original link.

Anyway, what started out as someone’s house rules has evolved into our family mission statement. There are even Bible verses to go along with each rule. Here it is:

In our Family, We

1. Love God & love each other;
2. Listen & Obey the 1st Time;
3. Use kind words in a kind voice;
4. Are honest & loyal;
5. Have a servant’s heart;
6. Ask permission & forgiveness.

That’s it. Six simple statements that define who and what Kidletville can be.

That’s the first Pinterest Jewel I found. The second was a copy of “The Art of Enforceable Statements for School.”  As I was reading through the suggestions for turning your ineffective statements into “words of gold” that are laced with “love and logic”, it hit me like a ton of bricks. This just might be the way for me to diffuse the tension that arises in my house. And so I tried it. With legos.

Another think I should fess up to is that I hate LEGOS. Well, that’s not exactly true. I actually like to build with them. But I hate stepping on them. Which tends to happen. A lot.  So, on New Year’s Day, before we headed over to the In-Laws house for corn beef and cabbage, I went in to the kidlet’s crib and found all of their legos scattered around the room. I calmly walked back to the living room and informed them that we would be leaving as soon as the legos were picked up. Kidlet #1 reminded me we were supposed to be at Grandma’s by one. I told him we could be late. After a second of hesitation, he books it to his room with Kidlet #2 dragging his feet behind him. (Kidlet #2’s cleaning tactics are a whole other post.)

After about ten minutes, I walk in and see them playing. Now, this is where the concept of turning your words into gold kicked in. Normally, I would have seen this distraction as defiance or disrespect, even though I know in the ego-centric world, it’s a younger version of my own “shiny thing” syndrome. (Oh… another post topic… sweet… and I just did it again.)

Back to now… instead of yelling, I repeated what I told them originally. “We will leave when all the legos are in the lego head. Would you like me to set the timer to help remind you?”

At first, they looked at me like I was an alien. You could see they were trying to figure out if this was a new mom psychological tactic where no matter what they say, some kind of tongue lashing is about to be unleashed. Like wild dogs in the woods, they cautiously said yes to the timer. I brought it in, set it for 10 minutes and then left the rest up to them. Ten minutes later, without screaming and crying, we were getting bundled up, their task completed.

Now, I’m not a fool. Once quiet afternoon does not a change make, but it gave me hope that if I could retrain the way I speak, and ultimately teach them, then the whining and the fighting, and the “you broke my heart by yelling at me” (Yeah, Kidlet #1 has the guilt trip thing down) disasters might be avoidable.

And if this were to happen, well let’s just say, Kidletville will be a much more peaceful place to live and might help me win my re-election for Mayor… which is pretty much a lock… the natives can’t cook for themselves… yet.

What parenting changes do you plan on making in the coming year?

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