Welcome back to my series on Remember For Life. This series started from a story that I heard on a radio station that I listen to and it really reminded me of what was important – what our children will remember. If you missed Day One, you can read it here.
If you missed Day Two, you can read it here. It was about focusing on our kids and giving them our full attention.
If you missed Day three, you can read it here. It was about looking at how you treat your spouse, in front of the kids.
Today is day four: Giving them the tools to do the right thing.
Take this scenario:
You are ready to do a project in the house and you need your tools. You go into the garage to get your smallest hammer, but you can’t find it. You look everywhere, but with no luck. You use a different one, but you continue looking every day, becoming more upset that you can’t find it. A week or so later, you walk into the woods behind you house, and you step on something hard. You look down to see your missing hammer, rusty, from being left out in the rain and cold weather.
You come to find out that you son left it out there after he was building a fort. You are clearly angry, because of the lack of respect that he had for your things, so you now have two options:
1- Yell at him. Criticize him for acting this way… “What is wrong with you?” “How could you have done this!?”
2- Explain to him that you have to show respect for other people’s things. “I know that you wanted to build a fort, but now you aren’t going to be able to use it, because now it is rusty. I am going to have to buy a new one and they cost $10. I need you to buy it, and I’m sorry that you have to use your money to buy it. You can do chores to earn money for the new hammer.”
Which is better? Clearly #2, but because parenting is very emotional, and an emotional response to situations can be yelling. As parents, it can be hard to steer clear of number one. Try not to yell when you can explain something instead. Teach them the real lesson and let that lesson do the teaching. If you ruin something, you replace it. If you lose something, you replace it. It is so much more beneficial, especially to kids. In twenty years, if they lose a major report at work, do you want their boss to just yell at them/fire them… or do you want your kids to see what has happened and work hard to fix it, therefore keeping their job? Think about the long-term goals for your children.
Hopefully, when you have these conversations with your kids, you will teach them to do the right thing, all the time. You will teach them to WANT to be their best and do their best.
There are times when your child will know or feel like they could have done better. They know that they shouldn’t have left that tool outside and they feel bad. Yelling at them may have made them regret getting into trouble, but talking to them will make them realize what has happened and why it wasn’t a good choice.
Talking to them has so much more of an impact on our kids. They start to notice things without you even telling them… and trust me, they can be their harshest critics.
After we lost in our football playoff game, I told Jack, 9, how proud I was of him and how he had a great season. He responded with”We lost… and I could have played better!” I told him “We can’t win them all, but if you could change anything, what would you do?” This opens to letting your child be in control of how “they” could of changed instead of “you” telling them what you witnessed. They will want to do it, because it will make “them” feel good. They will not be doing it to please “you!”