Practical Dad

Putting It Back On The Kids

At what point do the kids learn to do something as requested - without having to have you ride herd on them?

It does happen eventually.  A close friend was impressed when her mid-teen son began replacing the toilet paper rolls when he found them empty.  But what can be done to help the process along without spending all of your time yelling?  Because failing to listen is one of the key factors in causing parents to lose their temper.

It continues to be a struggle in this household, although there are lights at the end of one of the tunnels.  There are several things that I routinely do and something new that's being tried.

These approaches are routinely done.

  • Have the child turn off and put down any handheld devices, as well as turn away from the television.  Depending on the circumstances, I'll sometimes stand so that the kid has to fully turn away from the TV and is unable to gain a side-glance.
  • With a smaller child, get directly within about a foot of his face and speak slowly and clearly.  We have a finger-to-nose signal that means focus on me.
  • Have the child repeat the directions so that anything misunderstood can be corrected.  And even then, it can be hit-or-miss.
  • Have the child come to a separate room that is free of games/electronics/toys in order to get the instructions.

This is being tried.

  • I've begun putting the burden of carrying out the correct instructions back onto the kid.  This means that when I find that something's been done totally half-assed, I'll call the kid in and have them do it again.  When kids get to be older, they resent having you looking over their shoulder; the resulting attitude creates even more issues and there have been moments when I'm so out of patience that I simply correct the situation myself.  Now, the kid will be called back and have the directions reiterated.  I then leave the kid to their job and will return to check it.  The kid should learn that if he wants to be left alone, he had better pay attention and get it right the first time.

 This approach obviously won't work on brand new chores or situations with which they have no experience, but it should work and cut down on the I'll just do something close so that I'm done and can move on without the old man nagging. 

So we'll give it a shot.  And until then, I'll keep with the other approaches and try not to blow a gasket.

But jeez, it's hard.

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