My children do not always have a perfect attitude. Please tell me that you knew and expected that, given the fact that we are human beings and I never made any announcement that we have reached perfection. So, we have “those days” when they moan and groan about chores or learning or practicing violin and piano. What do I do?
Well, I am not perfect either. Some days I make mistakes in the way I handle their bad attitude. Then we make up and apologize to each other and we are the stronger for it. Other days I manage to keep my cool, say a prayer for wisdom, and find a way to motivate them. It is going to be a long life in the homeschooling lifestyle if my children have attitude problems every day, right? Good thing they don’t.
I expect they will have less and less of those days as we consistently show them there will be no videos until they finish their chores, learning, and practicing their instruments. Or other consequences.
The key, of course, is consistency. And keeping calm. And making sure that I have been filled with good, positive thoughts during my morning devotional. Unfortunately, even on some days when I have received power “from on high” I fail to keep calm with them. Disobedience angers me.
I was a good child. I was an obedient child. I grew up expecting to be told the rules and obeying the rules, never questioning the rules, and always looking over my shoulder to double check that I was following the rules. Did I misbehave here and there? Yes, but my overall tendency was always to do what was right. I feared my parents, especially my dad.
I think most people today would de-cry the lack of respect in today’s children. It is our fault, as parents, because we chose, as GenX-ers, to be a bit more democratic about family decisions than our Baby Boomer parents. So we involve children in some decision-making processes, which gives them the idea that they have power.
The other day, I announced that we will go hiking and biking on the Gatlinburg Trail on Saturday afternoon. My son said, “But I scheduled a hike for Sunday.” I replied, “I make the schedule around here.” I am surprised that he even came up with that. Seriously? “I scheduled a hike…”
All this to say, I hope you don’t have the impression that we don’t have real children. Our children can be argumentative and poky and downright hostile at times. On those days, we pray to stay calm and apply consequences. The first thing they lose is the 30-minute video privilege, which they get every day if they do their chores, learning and practicing. The second thing that goes is the star from the Accountable Kids program. They can earn a star every day for overall completion of their tasks. When they gather 10 stars, they go on a date with either me or daddy or both.
Research shows that only consequences work. If you allow a certain behavior to go unchecked, children will repeat it again and again because they know they can get away with it. It’s that simple. It is not easy to apply consequences, especially when their cute little faces crumple up into tears, but nobody said parenting was a walk in the park.