Jenny actually brought this up yesterday on our “family photo” joke. Only really, it’s not a joke. I know they’re having a rough time right now getting through the 4’s. My first born child was HORRIBLE at 15-16-17….
I have no magic answers because LORD KNOWS I didn’t raise perfect children. I mean they’re both productive members of society and they make me proud of them more often than not but back in the day, they gave me a run for my money so I can only share what I did. That’s really all any of us can do. Share our experiences.
My favorite age was 4 through 7-ish. They still love you and are still naive and believe what you tell them but they aren’t infants anymore. They can talk to you and do things with you. I loved that age. I even taught swimming lessons to 4, 5 and 6 year old’s. I love them. I however hated 2-3. I hated potty training more than anything. I don’t know if ages change with time or not. By the time both my kids were 4 they were going to Sunday school and pre-school, only then it was called nursery school, so they were more good than not. Kids really need peers and without them, it’s hard to teach sharing, kindness, waiting your turn etc.
Laura mentioned in the “joke post” that she has learned to “pick her battles” and I guess that’s what we all have to consider. What bothers you the most and how you stick to your guns on things.
These were my battles.
#1. I didn’t tolerate late. EVER. I never budged. For every minute they were late, they owed me that time. ALWAYS. I had them do chores or rub my feet or sometimes they just got grounded. They both learned very early on not to be late. I would only worry and I didn’t want that to be something I always had to think about. They were almost never late. If they called, they didn’t get grounded. I always told them that if they could be 15 minutes late, they could be 15 minutes early.
#2. I didn’t do the whole “tantrum” thing. If they threw one, I just walked away. A kid isn’t going to throw a tantrum for very long if nobody’s watching. The only time my boys really ever threw a tantrum (I wouldn’t call it a tantrum but for argument sake…) was if we were in a store and they wanted something and I said no and they kept it up, I’d just walk away and if you really do it, they’ll follow you 99% of the time. If they didn’t want to get ready to go somewhere or not put on their shoes or jacket, I just left them alone and went about my business. Standing there alone, they put on whatever very quickly. I once let Toby think I left him at home. He was about 5 and he was really being a putz, I know!!!! Imagine that!!! But he wasn’t listening and I left and I drove away in the direction of the store but I crossed back and sat in the cul-de-sac watching the house for 10 minutes or so and then went back and came home. I’ll tell you one thing, he never did that again.
#3. If they ever asked me if a friend could come over or do something with them and the friend was standing there, it was an automatic no. Being I worked at the school with them for various years, they started asking if Ike or Karl or Chris could come over after school and I didn’t want that to start nor did I want to hurt anyone’s feelings. They had to ask ahead of time or at least when we were alone.
#4. I always followed through on what I said I was going to do. If I said “knock it off or I’ll pull this car over and shake you silly,” I did. I hate it so much when parents yell and yell and yell and it means absolutely nothing to the child. The parent just keeps after them and after them and even now, that drives me nuts. But I was also very careful when handing out a punishment. I didn’t tell them when they were 4 that they were grounded for a month because that never works. Then you’re always giving in. If you give in sometimes, that kid always thinks he’ll change your mind. If you never do, you don’t get the arguing. So it’s really important to make sure the punishment fits the crime and the age of a child.
That’s about it. I never stressed if their rooms were a mess or if their shoes were on the floor or their jacket was hung over a chair. I never overreacted if something got broken. Stuff happens and usually those things were accidents. I also felt that our boys lived in our home too and I really never was a nag. Not even to them. This is why you can’t be a crab over everything. You have to carefully weigh what bothers you the most and what you won’t live with and remember, if it’s not that big of a deal, it might just be better to let that go.
We also did a LOT of chore charts. For some reason kids really get a kick out of picking a sticker out and putting it on a chart and after a week or two, they get to pick dinner or whatever you agree on ahead of time and if you’re having trouble with something, put it on the chart so the child works on it each day and it’s a conscious decision.
If I could have a “do over” for anything I think it would be the talking back. Jason was awful about that but at the time “airing feelings” was really big in the early 80’s. He really hurt my feelings a lot of times telling me he hated me and stuff. In hindsight, I’d never do that again.
I’d also like to share something that my mom used to tell me. If I was having trouble with one of the boys she’s always say “if you can’t make them mind at 5, you’ll never be able to do it at 10. They get older, stronger and more defiant. Also, we had LOTS of tears and “I don’t want to’s” but it’s just kind of how I did things and it worked. You have to find out what works for your child because they didn’t come with a manual and they’re all different.
So, where are you at? What are your battles? What are you having a problem with? What worked for you and what didn’t. Also, what works for one child won’t work for the other so you have to hit each child where it hurts.