Children Are Complex… How Knowing Our Child More Will Free Our Time
Children are so complex! Each one is different, changing moods, attitudes, the growing pains, utter frustrations and utter joys!!! It can feel like a roller coaster, tossing and turning. Spinning upside down. Trying to let your brain keep up to how fast everything is moving! 😐
And it feels like it never ends…
Let’s see if we can figure out how to slow things down, and get some sense of direction!
Ever Changing Environment
The world is moving… FAST.
As technology advances, people get better and better ideas, and systems improve so rapidly, it can be hard to keep up! Our homes are the same. Life changes, people grow and mature, activities begin to change (usually with the ages of the children). Being close with our children allows more of these changes to filter into our families, without throwing out our balance.
We can plan ahead, knowing how our children will probably react, freeing a lot of our time. Instead of being constantly surprised by the same issues, like our child constantly leaving their phone behind, we can have those things covered, by having a system we go through to ask about their phone. At first we can ask our child to remember their phone as everyone is getting ready to leave, and reminding them at the door. After doing this for a few weeks, we move it to only the reminder as everyone gets ready, if they forget their phone it’s now a natural consequence. Again, after a few weeks we can stop asking all together, but talk with our child about remembering their phone at other random times (to keep it fresher in their minds while they learn). The best parts of a strategy like this, is that when it isn’t working we can go back to the previous step, and that it will work for almost anything!
You name it. I’ve seen this work in so many situations with sooo many children.
This is just one way to plan ahead, there are a lot of different ways to automate your parenting and free up time. Let us know some of yours at the end of the post!
When you Plan ahead, be sure to make it a Regular thing!
As with most things in life, in parenting consistency is key.
Make planning ahead a regular thing, but also keep whatever you change a regular thing as well. Make it a standard in the family. With the phone example we explained to our daughter that her having the phone is a safety thing. When we let her go places on her own it is important, so we made it a standard that whenever she leaves the house, she takes the phone. Believing that over time the average will be her out, with a phone, no matter what. Just like before, this works with all behaviours.
In the schools I would get students to do work this way as well. A lot of the students wouldn’t do their work, so I used the same strategy. First I would ask them to do a little bit of work, and then just watch them. After a few lessons I would ask and prompt them if they needed it, keeping them on track a little bit. A few lessons later I would start asking for longer times (work for 15 minutes instead of 10, depending on age etc), and continue increasing it through the little objections. If I had to, I added a reward, and asked the teacher if I could take them out of class for 5 or 10 minutes at the end. Then I would leave it at that, usually within a month or so they were sitting in majority of the lesson, and usually engaged!
If you like the idea, use it regularly, and on different things in creative ways. I’d low to hear how you have used it!
By making Planning ahead a Regular thing it will become a Routine
Once something becomes a routine, it has the opportunity to become a life long habit. This is extremely useful if we are say, teaching a human how to think and behave in the world, or parenting!
Routines are really just consistency noticed.
When something is working, be ready to tweak it making sure it works for everyone, but keep doing it! Creating consistency and routine in the home makes everything easier. It is the skeleton to our bodies, the scaffolding to construction, the pillars to the tower. Routine and consistency are a solid frame to balance everything else from. It helps to build trust, makes our children feel more secure, can allow space for people to be heard, and keeps everything running when things are falling apart.
Automating our routines and sticking to them frees us up.
We don’t need to use as much mental power on the day to day mundane.
So when there is more pressure, when we are overwhelmed, and when there are tough times in the family, the routine keeps going and less mess gets left behind.
By making Planning ahead a Regular thing it will become a Routine;
Routines that care about people makes space to Know Them, and to Know Yourself.
Know Them, Know Yourself, Know Them Well.
There are many ways to get to know someone, but we are on a mission. We want to provide opportunities, grow character, instil morals and grow a well balanced human.
So where should we start?
What if we started with ourselves? Working on ourselves will help us to see our blind-spots, to work on some of our reactions and interactions. Modelling how to work on ourselves will also help our children learn. Be open about where you struggle with your children. We are in a society that posts a bunch of wins all over the internet and celebrates competence. Show your children that it isn’t all win, that there is some struggle and some work to do to keep it together. Be human 🙂
They will open up, they will respect it, and it will help them!
The other thing about self improvement is that as we work on ourselves, we begin to look at things around us differently. Suddenly the things that we are trying to work on are projected onto the around us. Better yet, sometimes these projections are true, and suddenly we can understand these people to a deeper level.
In our parenting this means that if our child is, say, manipulative… suddenly there will be a spot light shinning on those behaviours. As long as we are truly working on ourselves, and can control how we respond, we can talk about our problems in the same area and have a very deep conversation with our child.
Don’t just launch in to a life story to your 4 year old though! Wade in casually and slowly.
Imagine talking to your best friend about a delicate situation you have noticed in the friendship. Take time, pick the right place, be careful with your words, and use a lot of understanding. Let the conversation happen, and keep it in words they will understand and need to hear.
By wading into those deep dark waters slowly, we can calm our feelings and give space for the other person to do the same. Exactly like the ripples in a lake as you walk in… the faster you move, the more violent the ripples. Moving slowly and carefully we can get to the heart of the problem, and put a real crack in the dam, even if the conversations fails.
Crack In The Dam!!!
Has anyone seen a dam break? I got interested as I started writing this, and found some interesting videos!
Which one would you rather?
Especially if the waters hidden behind that dam were your child’s frustrations?
Personally, I’ll take the first! I see that first break as a nice soft conversation, and the second as our only other option… a blow up in frustration from our child.
By wading into conversations about our hopes and fears, what we are thinking, our insecurities, we can chip away at the blocks and the emotional dam most people have. Here, paradoxically, spending our time saves our time.
Being around our children more gives us more opportunity to connect, and naturally moves the conversations to deeper and deeper things. As our children grow, and become more independent, moving into the teenage years, it can be easy to miss these moments. Strategically working them into our busy schedules will save us time with issues in the future, guaranteed. We will be able to teach our children how to think for themselves and find solutions, while providing the back up and support they need to go and try new things! Leading to a competent, confident human, and we need more of those!
One way to boost the confidence and competence is to celebrate your child’s wins. And I mean celebrate. Make a bit of a deal out of it, let them pick dinner, give them some form of reward. One word of caution, don’t use this all of the time, or too often. Change up what you celebrate, use something you are focusing on behaviour wise if you want a bonus effect! The reason we need to be careful with this, is that rewarding behaviour can actually decrease the behaviour over time. In studies 1 2 it has been observed that rewarding regularly actually decreases the natural motivation to do an activity by half! The study found that when a reward was expected, the children did what they enjoyed (for the experiment, drawing) half as often. Using a surprise reward though, gained a better result than no reward at all.
So what do we make of this? How could we use this?
Rewarding the behaviours we need to see in our children. Look for confidence, decisiveness, caring for others, showing gratitude, good manners, being generous… all of those good human qualities, and reward THOSE behaviours randomly! Pump your children up and make them realise that helping others feels good, and lasts even longer when we expect nothing and think nothing of ourselves.
Adding some of these ideas in to your parenting can simplify it, build a stronger closer future, and will free your time. If you try it, I guarantee it.
Good luck, let us know how it goes below!