Monday, July 19, 2010

When The Rules Work

One of the really important things about having family rules is that they apply to the entire family. I had a big old ah ha moment about that yesterday. Teagan was testing limits in her obstinate, semi-snarky little way. I started to fly off the handle. She had talked back, shoved her brother, used mean words/attitude to him. That breaks the family rule "Respect Others." I started to point down the hall and yell and stand over her. I was prepared to pick her up and carry her to her room for her consequence- a brain break (time out). I got about 3 words out when I remembered those family rules. I literally said out loud, "NO. Wait. Stop. Family rules." I picked up the piece of paper and calmly came down to her level. I pointed to the broken rule- Respect Other People. I read the consequences at the bottom of the page and asked her to go take her brain break. Now, it wasn't magic. She didn't smile and say ok and walk to her room. She crawled. But she went. And I didn't get angry and we didn't end up in a blow up and meltdown situation. Later, it struck me that the most important part of that exchange wasn't that she realized the broken rule and accepted the consequence. The most important part of that situation was that I followed the family rules. I respected her. The last few days, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what kind of parent I want to be... how I want my kids to remember me... what I want my kids to learn from me about being a parent, a person. Yes, my daughter is going to need things that are outside of my comfort zone. She needs more structure and discipline than I had ever thought I'd have to give. But that doesn't mean we can't ever have fun. That doesn't mean I can't ever give in. That doesn't mean that I can't stay one step ahead of her. That doesn't mean that I have to be angry and enter into huge battles every time she tries to take me there. I'm keeping my copy of The 10 Commitments close by. I'm keeping the family rules close at hand. Respect Yourself. Respect Others. Respect Your Surroundings. Photobucket

8 comments:

mimbles said...

Reading this I suddenly felt this knot of tension inside me loosen. I've been way too quick to anger with my kids recently, it's so easy to lose sight of the other better ways of dealing with conflict. Thanks for the reminder.

(Note to self: rules are for everyone, that means you too Mim :P)

Melisa with one S said...

Yay! Love this!
(and congrats!)

kbiermom said...

Yes! Score one for the mama!

I always grieve a little when I hear similar stories that culminate in the vent:, "...and I had to drag her to her room kicking and screaming.... what's wrong with kids today? why can't they learn respect?..."

Kids learn by imitating. They have to see respect in action in order to imitate it. You wouldn't expect a kid to learn to speak Spanish unless you speak it in the home... to teach the language of respect, speak it :)

Melissa said...

You are more than right. We have to be good examples and follow the rules too. It's not easy being a good parent, but it's certainly worth it.

- Melissa

C. Beth said...

Love this, Liz. Thanks.

Momza said...

I really enjoyed this, Liz.
Keeping the long-term goals in sight helps me keep short-term emotions in check.
Way to BE!

Anne K. said...

Yes,yes, yes! Will has taught me to stop and pause and think before responding to a crisis or outburst. It's amazing how it now takes A LOT to get my feathers ruffled. Good for you and thank you for sharing.

Carol said...

As usual, you've made me think....

I've been feeling like I've been so hard on Matt lately...I've re-read key portions of Happiest Toddler On the Block, but parts of it don't work for him anymore. I need to find something different. I think I'm going to look for the book you mentioned here. I need to do something.