Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Parenting class night seven: limits and consequences

How apropos that last week's class was on limits and consequences. Oh, how we struggle with those in our house. One of my "favorite" things is when people tell me I don't set strong enough limits for the girls. Seriously, I feel like that is all I do some days! Maybe not in the right ways, though, I don't know.

One of the extremely frustrating things happening in our house right now is getting the girls to clean their playroom at night. Now, both girls can do it. They can do it working together and I have seen them both successfully clean the playroom entirely by themselves. They are formally given half an hour (they have to start working on it at 6:30, but they can start earlier if they wish). If the playroom doesn't get clean, and we all know what the definition of "clean" is in that case, so no ambiguity, then it is closed the ENTIRE NEXT DAY. And they still have to go in and finish the cleaning. I implemented this rule about two months ago or so and since then the playroom has been closed about five or six times. This past week, though? THREE DAYS. Three days my girls have gotten the playroom closed. Two of those were full days off of school, too. And you know what? They don't seem to really care. They used to cry and throw a fit, but now they yell for about two minutes and then, oh well.

So as far as consequences go, I don't even know what I am supposed to do with that. In my mind that is a pretty extreme consequence. When I started it I thought "oh my, what did I do!" but overall it's worked. We still have to get the girls to clean without monster hissy fits, but that's a whole other post.

In addition to talking about consequences, and only giving ones you are prepared to follow through with, we talked about reducing the number of commands, over all. I struggle with this. My children don't listen, I am the textbook Mom repeating "get your shoes on!" five times every morning. Need to work on this one.

We also discussed that it is okay for children to be disappointed and we can even "create opportunities for disappointment". I suppose this is for parents who give in to everything, but that so isn't me. This goes along with two other ideas which are to be aware of short-term pain/long-term gain and "dropping the rope". STP/LTG is about setting difficult limits with our children now so that they will start paying off some time in the future. Dropping the rope means to not engage in a verbal back-and-forth with our kids. Not allowing your child to continue to argue or discuss something that you have already given the final word on. Iris is notorious for this, she loves to continue to challenge something. Now I can say "I have let you know what I need you to do and I am now done talking about it."

In class we were also reminded to come back to the basics, which is playing with our children one-on-one every day and "praising" them every day. It was a good reminder for me, because I have definitely been slacking on this one.

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