How many times do you give empty threats … how many times do you say the same thing? Even though we developed the Accountable Kids program, my husband and I are still trying to get this parenting thing right. Let's face it, parenting is tough! We do the best with what we have, and every day we try to raise accountable kids.
Lately we have had trouble getting the girls to go to bed quietly. The Privilege Pass was a great incentive to help our young kids develop a positive habit of going to bed, but now that our kids are 12, 10 and 8 we found ourselves in need of something more. We needed an "out of the box" solution.
Yesterday was a very busy day and dinner was late. I sent the girls up to bed. I told them I would clean up the kitchen and do the dishes, but I warned them that if they didn't go straight to bed I would have them come down and clean. Needless to say, I had to run upstairs several times to tell my girls to be quiet, settle down and get to sleep. One needed another drink, the other had to go to the bathroom and needed something in another room. Then I found them jumping on the bed and running around the room. They were wound up and having a great time while I finished all the dishes and cleaned the kitchen. I was tired and not in a good mood! I was full of empty threats and no consequences.
On the way up to their room, yet again, I realized that I was saying, “If I have to come up one more time and quiet you down, there will be a problem.” I realized that I was the one with the problem, not them. My problem was that I had not set a definite consequence for the behavior that was troubling me; I needed a consequence that was impactful.
I decided my “out of the box” solution was to put their energy to good use. I turned on the light and told the two girls who couldn’t settle down to get up. I didn’t get upset and did it in a pleasant, loving matter. I told them I was sorry they had made the choice, but if they were so energized, they could come downstairs and vacuum and fold laundry. They looked at me like I was crazy. Suddenly they were very tired. These were not easy jobs and took time to complete. When they were finished I told them I loved them, appreciated their work, thanked them, and was sorry that they chose not to go to bed. As they were wearily getting into bed I told them the floors still needed to be mopped if they still were not ready to sleep. They went to bed tired and quietly fell asleep.
The next day we discussed choices and consequences together as a family. We went over bedtime rules and the specific consequences for not following those rules. That night the girls went to bed and all was quiet. It felt great to know that if they chose to stay up the consequence would not be on me! This "out of the box" solution has brought peace once again to our evenings. It is just another reminder that It’s up to us, the parents, to set limits and enforce boundaries in a creative, respectful manner so that our children can learn important life lessons.
Do you have an "out of the box" idea? I would love to hear from you.