Posts tagged under Routine. Show all posts.
In a perfect world, everyone would be a morning person, up at the crack of dawn, cheery and ready to face the day with their workbags packed and teeth sparkling. But the reality for most families is that mornings are a scramble.
Do you almost lose your mind and voice each morning as you coax, remind and even threaten your kids? The stress can escalate all too quickly and leave a pallor on the rest of the day.
So what can we do to bring more peace and harmony to the mornings? Well, this is going to sound counterintuitive, but you have to give your kids more responsibility and let go of some of your own fears. The fact is, by pestering them, packing their bags and lining up their shoes, you are encouraging them to be dependent on you. So let yourself off the hook (and remember: if they are late, it is not a reflection on you).
An important goal of parenting is to encourage children towards independence. And the younger you start, the better! The more your children can do for themselves and for the family, the more confidence they will have. A good mantra for parents to repeat while making changes is ‘Love, Respect, and Faith’. Love doesn’t mean doing everything for your kids—it means letting go! Respect allows for them to make choices and to experience failure such as forgetting their homework, wearing the wrong shoes or being late. Think of these failures as opportunities to learn. And yes, have faith. They will learn.
Here’s a tried-and-true idea to get you started:
Have a family get-together to discuss the morning routine. Even a child as young as 2 1/2 can participate in creating a routine. When children have a say in creating the routine, they are much more likely to follow it. Make your meeting fun and brief, and remember a special snack can win almost anyone over!
Create a list of the jobs to be done in the morning. For instance, your child’s job is to dress themselves, and organize their pack. Your job is to dress yourself, to prepare breakfast and to call them when it’s ready. (Once only, not every 5 minutes!) With younger children it may be helpful to create a job chart with words and photos of them brushing their teeth, getting dressed and eating their breakfast.
Important tip: include a cuddle with a parent as the first thing they do in the morning. Children that feel cared about are far less likely to act out.
I’m going to go out on a limb, and predict that the first routine you make will not work perfectly. You may even curse the attempt. So agree to try the new routine for a few days only, with a plan to revisit it. Then celebrate what worked and tweak what didn’t! And feel free to comment here on your morning successes, failures and suggestions.
If you dove right in after last week’s blog and started working on your family’s morning routine, you may have bumped up against Rule #1 with the kids: things almost always get worse before they get better. Most of us don’t like change. So take it as a good sign and don’t give up.
Rule #1 with parents: WHAT you say and HOW you say it is almost more important than anything else you do. With this in mind, here are some suggestions for working out the kinks and winning over even the most challenging child.
Let the routine be the boss, not you. For instance, have you said something like this to your child recently? “What are you doing? Get in there and brush your teeth or we’re going to be late again!” While this may be true, you’ll have better results with something like this: “It’s five minutes to leaving time, what is it you need to do to be ready?” or “Would you please check the chart and see what you have left to do?” For a younger child, you can ask what happens next in the routine, or say “In our house, we brush our teeth next.” These statements teach your child to focus on the ‘needs of the situation’, and to think for themselves.
Important Tip: Tell your children what you’ll be doing, not what they’ll be doing. For example, instead of “I need you to get downstairs for breakfast.” Say “Mommy’s going down to serve breakfast. I’ll see you there.” Doesn’t mean they’ll jump to it, but you’re no longer hovering which might get you engaged in another struggle. Much more inviting, don’t you think? It works with partners, too!
Next, you’ll want to stop the nagging and the reminding. Allow alarm clocks, the routine chart, and timers to do your former job. Give your young child the timer and ask them to let you know when five minutes is up. Saying it with a word can work like a charm, too: “Breakfast” or “Coats”. Sometimes this wee reminder is all that’s needed to get a child refocused. With children, less is definitely more.
Another great tool to reduce nagging is to tell kids what you are willing to do and not willing to do, in a kind but firm manner. For instance, you’re willing to make breakfast but you’re not willing to remind them every five minutes to eat breakfast. You’re willing to help with zippers and buttons after they’ve put their clothes on.
On a final note, it’s helpful to look at how you measure success. A successful morning doesn’t mean that everything got done and done well. It can mean you respected yourself and children by not jumping in and doing it for them. It could mean you left on time without yelling and using threats, even if this means one of them went to school without breakfast! They’ll learn more from a hungry belly than from all the days of force-feeding them on the way out the door.
The goal in the mornings is not perfection but improvement.
The big bonus when you work on routines with your children? You’re teaching them about cooperation, contributing to others, and you’re moving your child from ego-centric to group-centric. All vital life skills!