Isn’t it amazing that with almost every task in life we need to be shown what to do? The older we get, the easier an explanation may be; but when it’s even a little complex or requires some greater expectation, it’s better to see a demonstration or to have a little hand holding (especially in the beginning). Taking time for training may be one of the more important tools, but I often forget that my children are only 3-years and 5-years-old and they need to be taught/trained over and over.
My husband has always disliked it when I remind him that we need to “take time for training.” He replies, “Honey, they’re not dogs.” So I’ve needed to alter my language by reminding my husband and myself that with almost every task, chore, job, manner, behavior, etc., we need to show, teach, demonstrate, model and of course “train” our children.
My first example for the week was taking the time to train them on how to clean their rooms. So many times, I’ll threaten, bribe, make a game out of it, beg, nag and then usually end up cleaning it by myself while I resent them and every toy we’ve ever given them. I always wish that they could just appreciate a clean room the way I do. I know it’s wishful thinking, but have any of you ever noticed that when your kids’ rooms are clean they immediately start to do gymnastics, wrestling, or wanting to have a dance party. The free space always invites them to have movement. And after all, isn’t that the best kind of play–especially because there’s no clean-up involved.
Early in the week I took the time to go “train” my boys how to clean their rooms. I noticed during this training I was using all kinds of Positive Discipline tools, for example, Asking vs. Telling, Encouragement vs. Praise, Validating Feelings, I Love You And_____, Sense of Humor, just to name a few. In the end, this was the best experience we’ve had cleaning their rooms. I asked them when we were done how it felt to have a clean room as well as reminding them how much I appreciated their help. I also went on to say that I had full faith in them to clean it next time by themselves (I’ll be sure to keep my expectations low).
Another example I had this week was taking the time to train them when I’m on the phone. This seems to be one of my most frustrating moments as a Mom. I think I’ve “trained” my kids with no manners, consideration and respect when it comes to me on the phone because for so many years I wouldn’t talk on the phone when they were awake or around. I’ve never been a phone person anyways so to be on the phone for more than 5 minutes isn’t usual. Of course the time came when I had to speak with someone on the phone just recently to set up swim lesssons for them. I knew my kids were being loud and annoying when the lady asked, “would you like to call me back at a better time?” I needed to leave the room to finish our conversation. I immediately realized this was nobody’s fault except for my own.
Instead of being upset with them, I was humbled to know that this was my opportunity once again to take time for training about how to be when I’m on the phone. I agreed to be respectful by keeping my conversations short and they agreed to return the respect by staying quiet…”if I kept it short.” We then went on to role-play it. The next couple of conversations were quiet and short.
Just as kids need continuous training in academics (reading, writing, math, etc.), I’m sure their training in cleaning and manners will be an ongoing process.