It has been snowing all week. Every day. All day. Every night.
We go to the mountains to have snow, but deeeeep down, here is my real wish: I awake every morning to optimal ski conditions. Abracadabra.
Snow fall, ski slope grooming, and snow plowing would have all happened during my sleep
Do parents have a similar wish for their children’s good behavior?
Mom or Dad ask for a clean room. Like magic children’s toys are put away, the floor in spotless, the books are neatly stacked on the bookshelves, the bed is made, and the desk is cleared and ready-for-work. “Aussitôt dit. Aussitôt fait.” Say the word, and it’s done. Just to our liking, no less!
No need for any teaching, training, or follow through!
We moms and dads must have received our parenting tips straight Mary Poppins and Nanny MacFee. Or maybe our children were born with an innate understanding of what parents consider appropriate behavior…
Appropriate Behavior – Down to Earth Parenting Reality
Just as we adults benefit from training in our jobs, children benefit from training in order to be able to behave well.Like adults who get training in our jobs, children benefit from training in order to perform well. Click To Tweet
Think about it. Did our sons and daughters clean their room in the womb? Did our babes learn proper table manners at the breast?
We parents often teach through discipline. We tell our kids what is wrong. “Your room is messy.” “Elbows off the table, please.”
How do they find out what is desirable behavior? Is there a more appropriate and encouraging way than through trial and error?
Would you like your boss to keep on telling you, “NO,” until you get it right? How motivating is that?!
Snow Inspired Parenting Tips for Teaching Kids
1. Enjoy the magic of NOW
Earth stills when snow falls.
Sounds are muted. Senses are chilled. Worries from the office seem faaaaaarrrrrr away.
These extraordinary apprenticeship years of our kids are precious and last such a short while. Sooner than later our kids graduate and move out.
What life skills and talents do our children take with them as they go out on their own? THIS is our parenting vocation.
My mother is celebrating a BIG birthday and we are writing her letters of thanks. I realized that I have many more memories with her AFTER having left home than while I was a child.
The birthday parties I recall through photos.
Here is what I remember through experience and which lives in my soul: the ambiance of love, the assurance that she had time for me, and her belief in my potential (especially when I acted out of line).
These qualities are communicated by savoring the present. The magic of small successes. Noticing appropriate behavior. Appreciating hard work. Encouraging me to persevere.
Aren’t those life skills you wish to pass onto your darlings?
2. Slow down before crashing
I love skiing FAST.
Except when there is no visibility and I wonder if I am about to speedily crash and plant my face into fresh powder.
When it snows, it is time to slow down. Just a tad.
When your child misbehaves, might it be an invitation to shift into a lower gear?
- What is the cause of the inappropriate behavior?
- Do the children even know exactly what is expected of them?
- Do they have the capability of carrying out those tasks?
- What could help them succeed even better?
In manufacturing circles, we refer to a bottleneck: THE operation that slows the entire process down.
No matter how much we improve other aspects of the manufacturing cycle, the process will only improve when we address THAT critical juncture.
Where is the weak point in your child’s ability to carry out your request? Slowing down helps you observe your sweethearts and identify their appropriate behavior “bottleneck.”
Are they not listening to instructions?
That’s a sure guarantee of misbehavior! So, the parenting issue to address is getting their attention before giving instructions.
Bend down to their level, make eye contact, smile, and THEN stipulate, “Honey, it is time to clean your room.”
Do the toys not have a home?
Playthings are tumbled into a box. To reach that one desired game, your child rummages through the entire stack (a.k.a. dumps them all over the floor). The issue is too many toys or finding a better way to store games.
“Sweetheart, you like a comfy home. Your toys want to be more comfortable too. Here are two boxes: toys-at-home and toys-on-vacation. Do you want to choose which toys go on vacation this week or should I? YOU can change every weekend!”
Slowing down helps identify your child’s unique bottleneck.
3. Break down the big job into smaller steps.
When it snows, visibility is reduced which renders many skiers less comfortable on the slopes. That’s when we CONSCIOUSLY rely on ski technique: bending down further to propel us through the turns in heavy snow, maintaining supple knees to absorb obstacles we no longer see, keeping our body weight correctly balanced over the skis…
Many of these gestures we do without thinking…until it snows and we once again recall and apply our technique.
In a similar way, when training the kids, why not break down a large task into its many smaller bits.
If our initial instructions (ex. clean your room) seems foggy to the kids, let us help them return to their comfort zone by reviewing the individual steps required for success of the total “project” (and securing appropriate behavior can seem like a PROJECT).
A clean room means
- Nothing on the floor
- The bed is made…and nothing is hiding under it
- Clothes are put in the appropriate drawers
- Toys and books are placed their assigned home
- The desk has space to be able to work correctly
Think of our children’s tasks like a gourmet dish. There is a recipe to follow. Step by step.
If it’s good enough for the best chefs in the world, I’ll give it a go in our home too
4. Specify the criteria for “acceptable behavior” and “very well done.”
After snowfall, some slopes get plowed and others are left virgin. Different strokes for different folks.
A good skier can master the smooth surfaces even with minimal visibility. An excellent skier dances through the powder.
“Sweetheart, a cleanish room is when the bed is made and the clothes are off the floor. A super-dooper-totally-awesomely-amazingly-clean room is when you also put your socks in the sock drawer, your shirts in the shirt drawer….”
5. Celebrate performance
A steaming hot chocolate and warm (greasy) fries taste especially delicious when coming in from difficult ski conditions.
“Darling. Well done.”
Upon leaving our mountain chalet, we clean up. Kids help with the chores. During one vacation with my sister and her family, our Make-A-Loud-Fuss son resisted doing his job: to clean the bathroom sink & mirror.
She taught him the secret to super-shiny-bathroom-cleaning (Spray the chrome with window cleaner. It sparkles!) and off he went.
He made the chrome sparkle.
My sister rounded up the crew of siblings and cousins and they ALL marched to the bathroom to recognize a job well done.
Since that day, Mr.Fuss REQUESTS bathroom cleaning. He is the recognized family expert on appropriate bathroom cleanliness. We have delegated to him the responsibility of coaching his brothers on quality control.
That’s a win-win situation!
Helping our Kids Learn Appropriate Behavior
How would you and your family’s life be different if you took a fresh look at a “bad news” situation?
- What one special thing can you appreciate about this time of life right NOW?
- What is REALLY happening? Slowing down enables fresh observation.
- What behavior do you, the parent, desire? What are intermediate steps?
- How can you help your children differentiate between good and great?
- How will you encourage REPEATED excellent behavior?