It is so much work- real, hard, hardest I've ever experienced work- teaching our children communication skills, negotiation skills, non-aggression, compassion, empathy, etc. instead of teaching them to simply obey. ESPECIALLY since we started off parenting Josh (8y) to simply obey.
We had a situation today. Josh wanted to go out and play with his friends. I reminded him that he hadn't done his chore
for the day yet, which was vacuuming. He told his friends he'd be out
in a few minutes, and headed to vacuum the bedroom. No biggie. Until it
came time to vacuum Bug's room. Then it was, "I don't want to do this
anymore!" "I just want to go play." "Its your fault I never get to have
Um, really? No. I calmly explained to him that he'd
agreed to finish chores before going out to play, he'd chosen not to
vacuum earlier in the day, and he'd also chosen to do the chores in the
first place (to pay for the screen he broke last week). He obviously
wasn't happy with his choice now, and maybe he'd make a different choice
He wasn't happy hearing my thoughts, and made like
he was going to just leave anyway. I got ticked and said, "IF YOU WALK
OUT THAT DOOR..."
"Then what?" Josh asked.
Then what? A flash of all the terrible "whats" I could inflict on him
ran through my head. And I thought to myself, "What the hell, self?
You're trying to teach him responsibility and time management. Spanking,
yelling, threats, punishments- none of those things teach that. Why are
you even saying 'If you walk out...' in the first place? Coercion?
Really? Are we regressing back to that just because it's easy and
effective? Easy, but effective at all the things you don't want to do.
Deep breath, calm down, focus, and handle this a better way. Ready? Go."
And although it was harder for me, took much more patience and much
more time, we talked through things. It's my responsibility to teach and
model the values I hold. I've made more work for myself now by making
poor parenting choices in the past, but I have to live with those
consequences. It's amazing how in trying to teach Josh that lesson, I
reinforced the same lesson for myself.