When Life Is On A Parent’s Side- Taking Advantage of Natural Consequences

Photo by Will Truettner on Unsplash

This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services that I find helpful in my own life as a mom. I may receive a commission based on viewer purchases or interactions with these ads. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not!

Updated 2/13/2019

 

Please comment below- When have you used natural consequences to teach your kids?

 

Life is tough and unforgiving… But every once and a while, the stars align and Karma comes through for you!

Every once and a while, life does the parenting for me!

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What are Natural Consequences?

Natural consequences are life’s way of teaching.

Basically, every time we act, there are good and bad ripple effects- consequences of our actions.

  • If there are more good than bad ripples, we consider that behavior to be a good thing.
  • If there are more bad ripples than good, that behavior is a negative one and we stop behaving that way.
  • For example, if I fart in public, most people wouldn’t comment on it because that would be rude. But people move away from me and don’t want to be around me because that’s gross! That’s a natural consequence of my actions. Nobody has to tell those people to punish me by moving away. And nobody’s even trying to punish me- it’s just the natural thing to do! Get away from the smelly girl.

There’s no teacher to plan out and enforce the rules, they just happen. We learn from the good and bad effects of our actions without someone to control the outcome.

Parents have a goal in mind to help their children become the best people they can be- people who will choose to send good waves into the world through their actions.

That’s why we correct our children when they act out. That’s why we try to teach them skills that they will need- like:

boy and girl answering questions on white paper

In order to encourage our children to act the in an appropriate and responsible way (so that they can become what we want them to become), we often set up our own rules, along with consequences for breaking those rules.

The awesome thing is that we don’t always have to! Sometimes life does it for us!

One Parent Who Had Life (And a Wise Dentist) on Her Side

A while back, I had a client with special needs who struggled to brush his teeth. He didn’t like doing it, he hated that his mom was always asking him to do it.

In desperation, this good mom tried many different techniques to encourage him to brush his teeth every day.

  • She tried sticker charts,
  • she tried various apps designed to help kids with self-help skills,
  • she tried hand-over-hand,
  • she tried being silly and making it fun,
  • she tried immediate rewards after each time he brushed…

She tried everything she could think of.

Most of the time, when she implemented a new strategy the child would comply for a day or two and then relapse. He was just as frustrated with the situation as his mom was.

And then one day, I came to visit the family. I checked up with his mom to see how he had been doing with brushing his teeth.

All she said was, “Watch this.” She sent him to the bathroom, asked him to brush, and stood back while he cleaned his teeth completely independently. No help, no bribing, no encouragement, no plan. He just did it.

I couldn’t believe it!

When I asked what changed, she explained that he had a dental appointment a week prior to my visit. It had been at least a few days since he had brushed when he saw the dentist. His mom spoke to the dentist privately about the problems they were having.

So this wise dentist had a one-on-one chat with the child. He didn’t try any grand plan or implement rewards or consequences. All he did was explain to the child what would naturally happen to his teeth if he did not brush.

Now, this good mom had briefly explained it to the child- usually saying something like, “Your teeth won’t be healthy” or “Your teeth are dirty.”

But the dentist did much more- He showed the child pictures of the stages of tooth decay. He showed the client how teeth turn yellow, then brown, then black, then fall out. He explained in simple, clear words that it can hurt and can mean extra dental visits and procedures.

He didn’t try to exaggerate facts or scare the child into submission (if anything he was very careful to keep it G rated). He simply stated some of the bad things that would happen if this habit continued.

And that’s all it took.

That’s the power of natural consequences.

Now, every parent knows that there is no single strategy that will fix all your problems.

But give it a try! What if it’s exactly what you needed?

How to Use Natural Consequences

Here’s how to do it.

A bottle of DOSE Juice is poured against a pink backdrop

  • Step 1: Identify what the problem behavior is.

A while ago, my daughter started dumping out her juice onto the table every time we sat down to eat. She would wait until we weren’t looking because she assumed (correctly) that she would get in trouble for purposely spilling her juice.

At first, I thought she was spilling on accident, so I asked her to help me clean it up and we moved on. No punishment of any kind. I thought it was an accident, after all.

After a while, I started to catch on to the pattern, so I watched a little closer.

Sure enough, she was pouring out her cup and watching the liquid spill out and run across the table. At first I was frustrated, but after trying to see things from her perspective, I realized that it probably did look pretty cool- like a waterfall or a stream. I love watching waterfalls.

I didn’t want to yell or put her down, but I did want her to learn that you can’t just pour out your juice!

  • Step 2: Think of natural consequences to the problem behavior.

I tried to brainstorm all the possible consequences that I could implement.

  • I considered not filling up her glass again after she spilt it… After all, if the drink is all gone, then it’s all gone! But I am very careful not to use natural consequences in a way that could at all endanger my child. In this case, I didn’t want her to get dehydrated or maybe choke on her food if she didn’t have a drink to wash it down with.
  • I also considered asking her to drink out of a sippy cup instead of a real glass. I know she would have hated that because sippy cups are for babies. I didn’t end up going with this solution for two reasons: 1- I didn’t want to shame my daughter or make her feel bad about herself and 2- this technically isn’t a natural consequence- it’s a consequence of my own invention. When you spill your juice, the universe doesn’t naturally replace your cup with a sippy.

After a lot of thinking, I had an idea.

  • Step 3: Decide on a safe consequence to implement. Allow the child to make the mistake in order to feel the natural consequence.

The next time she poured out her juice, I helped her clean it up but this time I refilled her glass with water instead of juice.

  • Step 4: Explain the consequence to the child so that they understand why it is happening.

When she asked for more juice, I told her that she already had her share of juice. I explained that if I gave her more juice, there wouldn’t be enough for the rest of the family to have some.

Then I calmly suggested that next time, it might be best if she decided to drink her juice instead of pour it on the table.  

And guess what? She never spilled intentionally again! (To the best of my knowledge… hahaha)

red Wrong Way signage on road

Every once and a while, when a child wants to try a behavior that I have discouraged repeatedly (and one that is safe!) I let him go ahead and try it out.

It doesn’t take long until he realizes that mom knew what she was talking about.

I once saw a video of a kid shooting himself in the nuts with a nurf gun. Yeah, that was pretty funny.

I’m sure there was a natural consequence that taught him something that day. Not from his mom. From life and his real experiences. And I bet he learned it better than if mom had just told him about it, too.

shallow focus photography of girl sitting on chair drawing on her paper on top of the table

Positives of Using Natural Consequences

  • It Makes Sense

Natural consequences are so easy for a parent to use because they are logical.

All you have to do is explain to your child the natural progression of events if their behavior continues. Think to yourself, “Why don’t I want my child to act this way?” Then share the cause and effect with your child to make sure that they see the link between their action and the result.

Avoid shaming, which sounds like this, “You are bad because of this behavior,” or “You don’t deserve blah blah blah because of this behavior,” or “This is all your fault.”

State the behavior and the consequence without blame. “When you hit your brother, he didn’t want to play anymore because he didn’t want any more owies.”

  1. For example, I don’t want my child to be mean to other children because then she won’t have friends to play with. People won’t want to be around her if she is mean to them.

2. I don’t want my child to spend all her money because then she won’t have money left when she needs something.

3. I don’t want my child to skip homework assignments because she won’t master the material. If she doesn’t master the material, she will feel confused during later assignments that build on what she is learning now.

  • It’s Honest

Do you ever hear parents trying to exaggerate or scare the child into behaving?

I do understand the temptation to do that. It can be effective and that’s hard to argue with. The problem is eventually that child will find out the truth, and then you’ll have to face the fact that you lied to him.

Natural consequences aren’t lies.

They’re the honest to goodness result of a person’s actions.

-Honest parents never have to worry about if the child has discovered their secrets.

-Honest parents never have to worry about if the child is hearing the truth from friends at school.

-Honest parents never have to worry about accidentally letting something slip.

-Honest parents can relax.

No hiding. No shame.

woman covering her face in front of wall

Natural consequences are a great way to do that, without losing efficacy.

  • You Don’t Have to Be There 

Notice in all my examples above- the parent doesn’t have to contrive these scenarios.

It’s just how life is!

That’s what separates natural consequences from chore charts, and sticker rewards, and even praise- All those things take YOU to implement. That means, if you’re not there, a child might not keep up the behavior that you wanted.

  • It’s Not A Temporary Rule

Natural consequences are universal. They won’t end after the child leaves your side. He can go to school, he can hang out with friends, he can move out and leave for college, he can raise a family of his own- and through all this these principles still apply.

Not like that chore chart. That only applies as long as you are enforcing it.

Parents who use natural consequences are teaching a lifelong skill of understanding how a person’s actions affect yourself and others in the long run.

  • You don’t have to be the bad guy

man and girl sitting on brown dock near boat and two white ducks during daytime

This is the BEST!

You know how when you take away your teenager’s phone she curses your name and says that you are ruining her life?

You know when you tell your middle schooler to do his homework and he claims that his stupid teacher gives more homework than all the other teachers and there’s no good reason why he should have to do it?

You know how you try to get the kids to help clean the house and they treat you like a dictator?

My favorite part of natural consequences is that nobody can blame me!

I didn’t make the rules. That’s just life!

It’s really nice to have some of that parent blame taken away. I didn’t ask for this to happen. I didn’t make it so. I am just a kind person trying to help my child avoid some mistakes! And I finally get the credit as such. 😊

When NOT to Use Natural Consequences

Now that doesn’t mean this is a perfect fit for every situation. Like all parenting strategies, we have to be conscious of when to use natural consequences.

Here are a few situations when I avoid using natural consequences:

  • When a child is too young to understand

selective focus photography of baby holding wooden cube

Natural consequences can be difficult for kids under age 4 to understand.

If you can shorten the logic to one or two sentences, maybe it could still be helpful on a 2-3 year old.

For example, I tell my daughter “You have to sit in the car seat because it keeps you safe.” At 2 years old, I’m not sure if she fully understands what I mean, so I usually pair this with another parenting hack.

For example, “You have to sit in the car seat because it keeps you safe. But the car seat makes you tall enough to see out the window! What animals can you see? I see a cow!”

  • When a child wants to do something unsafe or illegal

Sometimes, a child wants to try out something that isn’t safe, like not wearing a seat belt. Of course, we can verbally explain natural consequences to help him decide to buckle up, but we would never want to let a child actually experiment with unsafe actions just to learn the natural consequences for himself.

Same goes for unsafe sex, dressing inappropriately for weather, playing with knives, trying drugs, etc.

Sometimes the consequences are just not worth trying out. And a child’s safety is always most important! 

white and red first aid case on wall

Give natural consequences a try, and let me know what you think!

Let life be the bad guy for once. Turns out, life is a pretty good teacher anyways!

Please comment below- When have you used natural consequences to teach your kids?

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

Please share with any parent who is trying to teach their kids!

Subscribe to my email list for weekly updates in the world of parenting!

 

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How To Survive a Tantrum in Public (Ages 3 and Up)

Photo by Thao Le Hoang on Unsplash

This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services that I find helpful in my own life as a mom. I may receive a commission based on viewer purchases or interactions with these ads. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

Please comment below- How do you help your child calm down in public?

It’s just another day running errands.

I’m juggling a shopping list the length of my forearm, a wiggly child who is constantly touching things, and a purse that must have an anvil in it, judging by the weight.

I’ve barely walked into the store when we walk by the toy aisle. (Why do they put the toy aisle right by the doors so we have to walk by it every time??)

And the rest is history.

You all know the story. First come the begging and pleas, then the situation escalates to tears, and if it’s a bad day, we might even get some hitting, kicking, flailing on the floor, etc. 

Of course, I’m trying to calmly and logically explain:

  • all the ins and outs of money,
  • and how we have to work hard for it,
  • and how we don’t have a lot of it,
  • and how we don’t always get the things we want,
  • and how sometimes we have to wait and work hard before we can buy things.

And then Fit Hits the Shan.

She clenches her fists, then her whole body tenses. She is so uptight that she starts shaking all over. She releases all that tension in one blood curdling scream, then she sobs and falls to the floor, crying.

She refuses any help to calm down. If I try to pat her back reassuringly, she hits me. If I try to hug her, she pushes me away. If I try to hold her, she does the limp noodle thing.

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Even though it’s the same old thing I deal with every day at home, it’s so much worse in a public place!!

EVERYONE is watching…. I can just imagine their thoughts right now.

  • “What a terrible mom.”
  • “Is she seriously going to allow her child to act like that??”
  • “Can’t she do something about this?”
  • “That child needs some discipline.”

So…. What am I supposed to do????

1) Give the Child Some Privacy

My first step is always to find a quiet place to handle the problem. There’s two great benefits of this:

1- This gives the child some privacy to cope with their big feelings.

2-This puts me back in control by minimizing the embarrassment and getting me into a parenting mindset. 

person sitting in green grass lawn

Basically, the point here is that the attention from other customers makes me a little less suited for handling the situation because I’m distracted by my feelings of embarrassment. I’m not a good mom when I’m not focused on my child’s needs.

But that’s not all! The attention from other customers can make your child feel overstimulated, which makes it difficult to calm down. 

So trying to fix a major tantrum right in the middle of all the chaos of a packed grocery store or restaurant just doesn’t work.

The more things are going on, the harder it is to focus.

Find a quiet place.

  • That could be a bathroom in the store,
  • it could be an empty section of the restaurant or an empty aisle,
  • or it could mean walking back to your car for a break.

Sometimes it’s not possible to find a perfectly calm and peaceful location. In that case, go to the QUIET-EST place available to you… even if it’s not entirely silent. As long as you you and the child can focus a little better on the problem and on a solution.

2) Listen to the Signs My Body is Giving

Your body mirrors the chaos that is going on around you.

  • Your heart rate elevates,
  • your blood pressure rises,
  • your vagal tone increases,
  • your breathing becomes more rapid.

Watch for these signs in yourself because they keep you from feeling calm.

That’s why I always recommend the same super basic calming techniques, designed to help with these physiological responses to stress. 

  1. Count to 10 (this keeps you from reacting and gives you a chance to think),
  2. Take deep breaths (slowing your breathing slows your heart rate),
  3. Take a break (allows you to focus on your body and take the time needed to control your physiological reactions).

Only when I have control of my own body can I be effective at helping my child.

woman closing eyes white standing against stainless steel rail

I’ve found that these are great teaching moments too. If my little one sees me using deep breaths, she is more likely to try them herself. I can turn an unpleasant situation into a positive example for my daughter to learn from.

3) Meet the Need

Remember, your child’s behavior is a response to legitimate needs, wants, and feelings.

 Although tantrums are not effective ways to get something that your child wants, you have the chance to teach them a better way to meet their needs. 

The child is trying (unsuccessfully) to communicate with you. If you can help them do so in a positive way, then you’ll both benefit. Ask questions until you understand better what they need and what they feel.

  • Do they need to feel loved?
  • Do they need to feel understood?
  • Do they need to feel your empathy?
  • Are they hungry?
  • Are they tired?
  • Are they bored?
  • Are they overstimulated?

Model for your child how he or she can get what they want and need in a positive way.

shallow focus photography of two boys doing wacky faces

4) Don’t Reward Bad Behavior

We all know not to give a child a piece of candy to quiet a tantrum. After all, if someone gave me candy for acting poorly, I’d have tantrums too!

But it sounds like such a simple and easy solution!

If you really feel the pressure to give in to a tantrum, think of something very easy that the child can do to earn what they want rather than just giving it to them.

For example, let’s say the child wants a piece of candy, so he starts jumping up and down and yelling. Rather than just offering the candy (which would be rewarding them for having a tantrum), say “You can have a piece of candy if you ask nicely for one.”

In this way, the child is being rewarded for asking for the candy rather than being rewarded for having a tantrum.

Don’t teach a bad lesson without meaning to. Be intentional in your response! 


Check out these GREAT resources for parents and children! 

 Jilly’s Terrible Temper Tantrums: And How She Outgrew Them

You Get What You Get (Little Boost)

No More Tantrums (Big Kid Power)

Calm-Down Time (Toddler Tools)

The Tantrum Survival Guide: Tune In to Your Toddler’s Mind (and Your Own) to Calm the Craziness and Make Family Fun Again

Turning Tantrums Into Triumphs: Step-By-Step Guide To Stopping Toddler Tantrums

The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old: Revised Edition


5) Treat it Like Any Other Tantrum

All tantrums have the same rules. You can handle it at home, so you can handle it in public too! 

1-Think from the child’s perspective to see if there is an easy solution. Maybe the child is hungry? We can fix that! Maybe the child is bored? We can have races or he can write on the shopping list or he can help me spot the next item I need- anything to make shopping fun! Are we shopping right before nap time? Maybe I can change my schedule around to go at a different time.

2-Be conscious of the opportunity to teach the child something with this experience. Remember the values you want to teach and find a way to incorporate that into this situation.

girl covering her face with both hands

3-Don’t just react- be intentional in your parenting. Make sure you are calm and ready to handle the situation appropriately.

4-Follow through. Never give in to a tantrum. Rather, remind your child of an appropriate way that he or she can meet the need at the root of the tantrum. Help the child practice asking nicely or using effective communication.

6) Parents- Keep Trying!

The hardest step for me is to stop and think before I react to the situation.

I find myself thinking of better ways that I could have handled the tantrum after the fact.

But that’s ok because I find that I fail like 10 times in a row and then on the 11th time I remember. The only reason I remember is because I have thought 10 times of how I would like to handle the situation next time. All this repetition finally sticks in my head and the 11th time is successful.

So don’t get down- just keep preparing for next time until you remember.

7) Allow Your Child to Keep Trying Too!

There is one more step that I recommend to parents.

In all this, our overall goal is to help the child learn appropriate ways to cope with a situation that she doesn’t like– some sort of public activities like shopping or eating at a restaurant.

Of course, we have to be patient and give the child as much time as they need to learn those skills. Nobody learns a new skill overnight.

But it’s important to keep trying to teach a little more whenever the child is able to handle it- and that means returning to the situation. Yep, I’m saying to please bring your child back to the store sometime. It doesn’t have to be in the same day, or the next day.

But keep trying!

  • Give the child lots of heads up so that he knows what to expect,
  • remind the child of different ways that she can cope with being in the store,
  • and let her know that you’re on her side.
  • Try to set yourself up for success by taking care of the little things- make sure she’s not tired or hungry or bored.

Then give it another go! 

I like to empower children with a word or a sign that they are getting frustrated or overwhelmed. Then, we can take breaks from doing something they don’t like to do- and avoid a full blown tantrum. Even if the child cannot talk, this can be a great time to utilize infant signs, like “all done”.

Children get better and better with practice and patience. Don’t loose hope- you and your child will be better for your struggles! 

person wearing pink hooded jacket raising her hand in front of green mountain range during daytime

I hope these tools make you feel a little more prepared for your next day of running errands.

Keep up all your hard work as a parent and don’t fret about the small things.

Please comment below- How do you help your child calm down in public?

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

Share with any parent who has dealt with a tantrum in public!

Please subscribe to my email list for weekly updates in the world of parenting!

Did you enjoy this post? Reblog it to your site!

6 Tips to Handle a TANTRUM without Destroying Relationships

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services that I find helpful in my own life as a mom. I may receive a commission based on viewer purchases or interactions with these ads. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

Updated 2/12/2019

If there is one all-encompassing word to describe moments “when fit hits the shan,” that word would be “Tantrum”.

This word covers everything from stomping feet, to flailing on the floor, to screaming, to physically attacking people and things. It’s basically a name for every parent’s nightmare… especially if tantrums happen in public.

In our case, tantrums started when our baby hit 13 months. She will tighten up her hands into fists, her whole body shakes, and she screams bloody murder. This is usually followed by crying and falling to the floor. Sometimes when my husband and I try to help her calm down, she will push us away or hit us.

So, being good, responsible parents (or at least we’re trying to be)…. What are we supposed to do?

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1) Think of the Child’s Perspective

Children usually have a good reason for their actions, but it can be hard for them to tell us what that reason is. All parents know, kids struggle with communication. It’s not their fault. Lots of adults suck at communication too.

When we stop and really look at why the kid is acting out, usually we can find a good reason that we’ve overlooked.

  • Maybe a situation really isn’t fair.
  • Maybe he’s hungry and that makes him irritable.
  • Maybe he’s tired so he’s grouchy.
  • Maybe he’s bored.
  • Maybe there’s so much going on that he’s having sensory overload.
  • Maybe he needs your attention but doesn’t know how to ask for it.
  • Maybe he wants an item that someone else has.
  • Maybe the physical limitations of being a kid are frustrating (I can’t reach that, I can’t take the lid off, I can’t make you understand what I’m saying, etc.).
  • Maybe he feels misunderstood.

Even though some of these things sound like “kid problems,” ALL of them involve real feelings.  Take a second, look around, think, and see if there is an obvious need that can be met.

Sometimes this solves the problem before we even get started!

Avoid writing off the situation because, no matter how insignificant the problem seems when compared to adult woes, it matters to your child!

2) Give The Child Tools

clothes iron, hammer, axe, flashlight and pitcher on brown wooden table

Various developmental stages require different responses.

Babies don’t tantrum- they cry because it’s the only way they have to communicate.

Toddlers are just barely learning to use words, so encourage what words they do know and model new words until they can master those too. This stage requires a lot of patience because if a toddler doesn’t know a word, the only other communication he knows is to cry.

Children who are old enough to speak fluently can learn to master their emotions by learning to calm down and practicing expressing their wants and needs to adults calmly.

Teenagers can learn to meet their own needs through responsible actions, thinking for themselves, and problem solving, leaning on parents as a guide as they practice this kind of independence.

Help a child be just a little bit better than they were the day before.

Teach a new word or skill and be excited for them when they make tiny steps towards implementing what they’ve learned! Even if they get frustrated, you can still notice and reward their positive efforts! 

3) A Learning Experience

woman holding girl while learning to walk taken at daytime

What do you want your child to learn?

What do you want them to become?

This varies depending on your values as a parent.

  • Some parents want a child to be independent.
  • Some want the child to know how to empathize with others.
  • Some want kids who can problem solve.
  • Some parents want children to learn to cope with their emotions.
  • Some want kids who are intelligent.
  • Some want kids to have successful careers.
  • Some want kids to listen to their inner compass.
  • Maybe you want all or a mix of these things.

Your focus in the tough moments should be teaching your child skills that will help her reach those ultimate goals for her success.

The focus will probably change depending on how old your kid is and what their strengths and struggles are at the moment.

If your kid is good at empathy, you might focus on something else… maybe problem solving. Or maybe you want to perfect that skill so it’s exactly what you want to focus on! It might even change from one tantrum to the next based on the circumstances.

Whatever you value, make that your focus and tailor all your reactions to her behavior based on what you are trying to teach.

Sometimes, it is really tough to think past the initial problem to focus on bigger issues like independence or problem solving.

Of course, we all want the best for our kids. The next step will help with getting past the day to day frustrations so that you can focus on the bigger picture.

Each tantrum is a teaching moment.

Usually, your natural reaction in these situations isn’t to teach- It’s to put an end to this behavior as quickly and as effectively as you can. Fight that tendency by being intentional!

4) A Fresh Outlook

Stop for a second. Take a deep breath, take a break, count to 10, use a calming tool, whatever you need to do to delay that initial reaction long enough to think it through. Intentional parenting is always better than just reacting.

Need a calming tool? Click the image below!

SpringFly 030 12 Pack Bundle Sensory Fidget Cube/Bike Chain/Liquid Motion Timer/Rainbow Magic Ball/Mesh and Marble Toy/Soybeans Squeeze Grape

If you lose your cool and yell at your kids…. Who’s learning? The kid? Nope! You? Hopefully!

Well, let’s halt. That’s not entirely true…. A kid can learn from these moments but they don’t always learn what you want them to.

  • They can learn that yelling is an appropriate way to handle tough situations, even though it isn’t.
  • Or, if you have a resilient child, they might learn that being yelled at isn’t fun and that they don’t ever want to yell at other people. We all hope for this, but unfortunately most kids fall in the first category.

When you lose your temper, don’t be afraid to go back and make it a teaching moment after the fact. Purposely reviewing the situation helps a child cognitively process the event in a positive way. 

  • You can show your little one how to say sorry.
  • You can teach them how to fix a relationship that has been bruised.
  • You can help them practice forgiving another person.

Don’t beat yourself up if you have imperfect parenting moments.

Those… oddly enough… are good for kids because they open up a whole new world of teaching moments for you, so don’t think you have to put on a perfect face for your kids all the time. Kids need to see someone handling mistakes well if they are to be expected to handle mistakes well themselves.

It’s not easy for me to have enough humility to apologize to my kids. Sometimes I feel justified for yelling because I was right and the kid was wrong. But that’s no way to live life and not how I want my daughter to learn to act either.

Click the image below for a great children’s book to teach your child about apologizing!

Zach Apologizes (Zach Rules Series)

She’s always so kind and forgives me right away. 

5) Carry Out your Teaching Moment…. Even if it’s Hard.

Remember earlier when you decided what you value? Now it’s time to make that happen.

This isn’t easy.

First of all, make sure you find a better solution to the problem and show your child how to implement it!

This shows the child that he can be proactive in finding a solution rather than getting upset. You can work through the stages of problem solving and think critically together.

Of course, early on, the parent does most of the brainstorming, but as the parent slowly gives the child more and more involvement in the process, the child becomes independent at thinking of solutions on his own.

person using white and gold compass

So, find out what the kid wants, then offer him an appropriate way to work towards that goal without behaving in a way that is hurtful to others. 

  • Using polite words is one of the best ways for a child to earn something they want. Use one of these phrases:
    • “Say please.”
    • “Tell me what you want and I will get it for you.”
    • “Ask nicely.”
  • If a child is tantruming about a task, give a shorter version of the task or allow them to take a break.
    • “You don’t have to clean your whole room now, just pick up one toy, then you can have a break. But you will need to finish the room after you calm down.”
    • “You don’t have to finish your homework now, just keep working for one more minute. Then take a break. But you will need to finish your homework after you calm down.”

I’ve seen parents make the mistake of making it really, really, really difficult for the child to earn the thing that they want. This teaches the child that it’s easier to yell and scream rather than try to do what you’re asking, so they will just keep up the tantrum.

Offer your child a really easy way to earn the thing they want. Then, the positive behavior is clearly a better option over the tantrum. .When the easiest choice is the positive behavior, the child is more likely to use it.

Then you can slowly increase the difficulty of the task once the child masters the easier tasks.

6) Clarity and Consistency

But what about when you’re just plain tired? Sometimes… It’s just easier… to not. Not do anything. Not worry about teaching. Not follow through.

I have noticed that if I give in even once, the tantrum is worse the next time and harder to get rid of.

It’s so much better if my child just knows what to expect from me.

  • If she clearly knows that mom means what she says because I’ve always followed through in the past, then she doesn’t test me.
  • If she isn’t sure if I will follow through or not because I didn’t follow through last time, then she’s more likely to push my buttons.

As difficult as it can be to be consistent in the moment, I keep myself straight by thinking of the bigger problems that happen when I fall off the wagon.

woman sitting on bed with flying books

I’ve seen kids who rule the roost.

They dominate the household while their parents cower before them and meet their every want (not their every need- their every WANT!). It’s seriously like watching a dictator bossing around his servants.

Here’s a few of the memories I have from these households.

  • A 5 year old beating his dad, who had a disability, by jumping onto his back, kicking and punching him repeatedly, and yelling hateful comments about how lazy and worthless his dad was.
  • A mom terrified to run errands because of how powerless she felt with her children. She couldn’t go shopping without buying them whatever they wanted, and it was ruining the family financially.
  • A child who could eat whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. His parents would ask him not to but didn’t have the courage to really stop him. As a result, his health was failing. He was overweight, had diabetes, and frequently needed medical intervention.
  • A child who ran away from his parents every time he didn’t get his way almost got hit by a car. Not like, the car was generally near him. He really ALMOST GO HIT. He got the candy that he wanted.

I’m afraid of these scenarios.

I’ve promised myself that I will never, ever allow my home to look like that. I was lucky enough to see this before I ever had kids, and it changed my parenting for the better.

Just remember, fixing is much, much harder than preventing.

Make the choices daily that will create a better life for you and your kids.

Don’t give in to tantrums. Instead, teach positive skills!

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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5 Steps to Create and Implement a Kick @$$ Chore Chart

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services that I find helpful in my own life as a mom. I may receive a commission based on viewer purchases or interactions with these ads. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

Updated: 2/12/2019

Chore charts are a great teaching tool for parents to use.

Children can learn:

  • responsibility,
  • hard work,
  • independence,
  • self-help skills,
  • empathy for the work that their parents do around the house,
  • understanding of how their messes impact the family,
  • confidence in their own abilities,
  • the relationship between our actions and consequences of our actions (cause and effect),
  • the joy of living in a clean space,
  • how to handle frustration,
  • the joy and pride of accomplishing something difficult,
  • and much more!

Children learn that they are part of a family and that means that they need to give back to support the well being of others around them.  

Each family handles the work load differently. It’s tough to know which method to use or who to ask for advice because your family has its own unique needs and circumstances.

Unique needs call for unique methods.

Here are 5 things to keep in mind as you are deciding how to best implement chore charts in your home… as well as some examples of my favorite chore charts.

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1) Too Big for your Britches

Development and age play a major role in a child’s capability to complete chores.

  • Younger children (2-5 years old) have shorter attention spans. They should be expected to complete simple chores that do not require much time (around 2-5 minutes- usually around 1 minute per year of age).
  • As children get older (6-12 years old), they are able to handle more time and focus on a chore (around 15 minutes at a time, again slowly increasing the time spent as they get older).
  • Teenagers should be able to complete complex chores and tasks around the home that may take much longer, such as laundry.
    • They are able to use deductive reasoning to see what needs to get done and follow through with the necessary tasks using time management skills. They should be independent in thinking through chores and taking care of their own areas/belongings. Teenagers with this skill will be capable of managing a home, apartment, or dorm on their own when they move out in a few years.

Choose chores carefully based on your child’s capabilities.

Don’t expect a child to do as much work as an adult would do or the same quality of work that an adult would do. Remember, you are teaching valuable life lessons, even if there are a few streaks left on the bathroom mirror.

Click the image below for a great magnetic chore chart that comes with many chore options for your convenience!
Melissa & Doug Magnetic Responsibility and Chore Chart, Developmental Toys, Encourages Good Behavior, 90 Pieces, 15.75” H x 11.75” W x 0.5” L

2) The Plateau Effect

On the other hand, we don’t want to make chores too easy.

Sometimes, parents implement a perfectly appropriate chore for a child, such as a 5 year old wiping down the kitchen table before dinner. The chore fits the child well and works well for the family.

But, as the child gets older, it’s the parents’ duty to increase the difficulty level.

Fight the rhythm of daily life- don’t get into a routine and forget to do this.

I call it the Plateau Effect. The child continues wiping down the table when she is 7, then 9, then 12. No new chores are added. No new skills are learned. The child is more resistant to learning new chores because all she has ever been asked to do is wipe down the table.

toddler's standing in front of beige concrete stair

Avoid the Plateau Effect by slowly adding chores to a child’s repertoire.

Remember that a child needs to know how to fully care for a house by the time they move out (let’s assume that’s at age 18). That means, you should be teaching each skill needed before that time.

Not only do they need to be able to wipe down the table, but they need to know how to sweep the floor, how to fold clothes, how to run the vacuum, how to dust, how to wash windows…. Everything.

Does your teenager know how to do laundry? How to clean a bathroom? How to organize their belongings?

Switch up a child’s expected chores so that they can experience all aspects of caring for a living space. Each time you change it up, expect to spend a little quality time teaching the child the necessary skills for the new task.  Then slowly fade yourself away, offering less and less coaching as the child figures gets better at the new chore.

Slowly increase the difficulty of chores or expect a more thorough completion of the chore throughout childhood until a teenager is capable of completing all the necessary tasks to live on their own- and can do each task well.

  • Example: If you ask a child to clean the bathroom at age 5, he picking up his bath toys.
  • By age 6, teach him how to pick up his bath toys and take out the bathroom trash.
  • By age 7, teach him how to pick up his bath toys, take out the bathroom trash, and wipe down the counter top.
  • By age 8, teach him to put away any stray objects in the bathroom, take out the bathroom trash, wipe down the counter top, and clean the toilet.

Click the image below for a chore chart intended for older children!
Chore Magnets for Older Kids (30 piece set)

3) Spruce It Up

Here are some of my top favorite chore chart ideas to make things a little more fun… and increase cooperation!

  • Let the kids make choices. This is a great way to decrease resistance to chores by allowing the child to take some responsibility. It helps the child feel heard and valued as a member of the family. They take more pride and responsibility when they get to have a say.
    • Some parents allow the child to choose which chores are on the chart and then the parent assigns a chore off the list each day.
    • Some parents choose the chores on the list and the child chooses a chore each day.
    • Some parents allow the child to choose one chore and the parent assigns one chore each day.
    • Some parents choose the chore, but allow the child to choose any time of the day to complete their chore. Some parents need to assign a specific chore time to make sure it gets done.
  • Make it a spinning wheel of chores. Whatever chore the wheel lands on is the one you complete!
  • Make it colorful and add cute pictures. Not all kids will respond to this, but some will like the chart more if it is visually appealing.
  • Add fun rewards- like music, a fun outing, tickling, a treat, a game, time using electronics, time with friends, one-on-one time with a parent, a small toy, stickers, or anything else your child is excited about! It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be fun! 
    • The reward should match the job done. If it was an easy job, the child should only receive a small reward. If it was a difficult chore or the child completed chores for an extended period of time, they can earn a larger reward.
  • Work alongside the child. This makes cleaning more fun, but it also teaches the child that you also work hard. This develops empathy in the child for the things you do around the house every day. It also shows the child that you are fair. You are willing to work hard too.
  • Try chore sticks! Click the image below!

Creative QT Chore Sticks for Kids – Make Chores a Game – Interactive Family Activity Combine Responsibility with Rewards – A Fun Alternative to a Chore Chart

  • Include all siblings in some degree. Again, this shows that you are fair as a parent. It also teaches each child the valuable lessons from participating in chores rather than just one child. Don’t make the mistake of letting the oldest do all the work!

Click the image below for multi- child chore chart! 2-3 kids can participate using this chart!
Multiple Kid Chore Chart for 2 or 3 kids use Dry Erase markers many themes

  • Make it a competition. Let’s see who can do their chore the fastest, or who can get the windows the cleanest, or who can throw trash into the trashcan like a basketball hoop, etc.
  • Break it down. If a new chore is too difficult for a child, teach pieces at a time and offer small rewards throughout. For example, if a child’s chore is cleaning the bathroom, you might teach him how to clean the toilet one day, then the next day teach him how to clean the sink, then the mirror, then the tub. Eventually, he’ll be able to clean the whole bathroom on his own!
  • Have a dance party while cleaning!
  • Set a timer. Some kids respond better when they know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Rather than cleaning until a particular task is done, children can clean until a timer goes off. The parent will need to decide if the timer signals the end of chore time or if it is just a break from chore time for a while.
    • Make sure the child does not get in the habit of cleaning slowly just to run down the clock!
  • Limit how many toys children have out at once to make the mess less overwhelming!
  • Clean often. Have a nightly pick up that involves the whole family. It goes fast with so many helpers, and it keeps the mess manageable. No buildup!
  • Let kids use tools. Cleaning tools, that is. It’s fun to try to work the vacuum, or use a duster, or a sponge, or play with soap spuds.

Click the image below to purchase child sized cleaning supplies!!
Melissa & Doug, Let’s Play House! Dust! Sweep! Mop! Pretend Play Set, 6-piece, Kid-Sized with Housekeeping Broom, Mop, Duster and Organizing Stand for Skill- and Confidence-Building

  • Get an app for that! Click the image below for a fun chore app that will help your kids enjoy chore time!

ChoreMonster

4) The Nitty Gritty Daily Challenges

  • Get into a Routine and Stick to It 

Once you have decided on a system that works for your family, stick with it!

Children tend to resist change at first, so they might not like the new chores that they are being asked to do. The more you apply your chore chart consistently, the less resistance you will face.

But if you cave here and there, you’ll have to fight that battle all over again from the beginning. Again. And again. And again… each time you try to get your kids’ help around the house.

Stick to your guns. It’s easier in the end. 

Click the image below!
My Responsibility Chart, Magnetic Dry Erase Wooden Chore Chart with Storage Bag, 24 Goals and 56 Reward Stars by Imagination Generation

  • Let Children Know What to Expect

It is easier for children to comply with parent demands when they can anticipate them.

Adults are the same way. Imagine your boss randomly changed your duties on the job and expected you to complete whatever task he threw at you at any time. That would be stressful and frustrating!

It’s easier to know what your day at work will look like. You know what your boss expects and what tasks you will complete.

Make things easier on your kids. Let them know what’s coming by keeping the routine the same and telling them of any changes to the routine as soon as possible.

  • Heads Up for the Kids

Don’t let chore time sneak up on your kids. Give them warnings beforehand. You can say things like “In 10 minutes we will start chores. Now there’s 3 minutes left. Now I’ll count down- 5, 4, 3, 2, 1- Chore time!!”

person holding white mini bell alarmclock

These warnings help kids anticipate when they will need to transition from whatever they were doing into a new task.

This can decrease frustration and tantrums because it allows kids to finish up whatever they are doing. It also allows them to prepare mentally to do something they don’t want to do.

  • Fight the Temptation to do the Work Yourself 

We all know that a kid’s attempt to clean the bathroom, or wipe down the table, or make a bed isn’t perfect. They try their best, but adults are just better at this stuff. We’ve had more practice after all.

Parents often have a specific way in mind that they like things done, and that’s even harder for a child to live up to.

Resist the temptation to fix your child’s work to make it “your way” or to make it perfect. This sends the message that the child did not do it right and that their hard work isn’t good enough for you.

person wearing gloves cleaning toilet bowl

If you really struggle with the child’s level of completion, complete the task side by side with your child.

  • Praise the things they do right.
  • Offer gentle guidance to teach them how to improve things that need work.
  • Slowly decrease the level of help that you are offering your child until they are able to do it all on their own.

This method takes time and patience, but it builds a child’s confidence and abilities rather than bringing them down.

5) Make it Happen!

This is the nitty gritty, get it done, just keep swimming, nuts and bolts, hard work of it all.

Now it’s your job as the parent to follow through and keep the system in place.

There’s nothing to say to make it easier... Except that you’re a rockin’ mama and you’ve got this!!! Good luck!

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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3 Indisputable Reasons to Be Honest NOW and Raise Your Kids to Be Honest Too

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services that I find helpful in my own life as a mom. I may receive a commission based on viewer purchases or interactions with these ads. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

Updated 2/12/2019

Honesty is a tough thing.

I think everyone wants to be honest until the moment when they get caught in a mistake or an embarrassing situation.

  • We don’t want to disappoint others,
  • we don’t want them to think less of us,
  • we don’t want to be punished,
  • we think there is something we can gain from the lie,
  • we are trying to fit a mold,
  • or we want to feel better about ourselves.

It just seems easier to fudge the truth.

And why not? Who does it hurt anyways? Is honesty really the “best policy?” 

1) Effect on Self

Let’s begin by making sure we are all on the same page about what a lie is. The definition of a lie is deceit on purpose.

I’m not talking about all those times when someone legitimately didn’t know that they were in the wrong. I mean deliberately changing the facts for your own benefit.

person avoiding to photo face

If lies are deliberate, is it possible to lie to yourself?

Yes.

Albert Adler called this a “life lie”. It’s the act of trying to trick yourself into being something else- something holy, with good intentions, who never did any wrong. It’s hiding your mistakes from yourself. You might even start to believe it after a while, but like any lie, in the moment of creation you knew it wasn’t true.

The problem with hiding from your truths is that you never learn any real and lasting lessons from your life.

Living perfectly isn’t living. It’s ok that you’re not perfect. If you were, you’d be bored. And a perfect life wouldn’t include boredom- so I guess it just isn’t possible.

Life is full of mistakes and accidents. Each time we rule out something that isn’t effective in our relationships, in our parenting, in our jobs, we get a step closer to becoming effective in those areas. Without this individual education, we couldn’t know who we are, what we want, or where we’re going in life. 

Every time you trick your brain by lying to yourself, you condition yourself to be a certain way. You condition yourself to be a liar. You lose some of your character, some of your strength to tell the truth or to be who you should be.

person in black hoodie

Your brain only activates its regions that are being used. That means if you lie, your brain is actively creating connections that support your lie. That’s why people start to believe it after a while.

That’s also why lies are addicting. Your brain is stuck in those working connections.

Consider all the prison guards in the Nazi camps. Yes, this is an extreme example- but it illustrates how far things can go when people lie to themselves.

These prison guards did terrible, horrendous things. They were normal people like you and me at some point in their life. But, they denied their inner conscience (which surely told them in the beginning that it is wrong to harm innocent people).

They didn’t just deny their conscience once- they denied it over and over again.

At first, there were small things that didn’t seem consequential, like accepting that they were a better than others because of their race. Then treating others like they were lesser humans. Then stealing property from others because of their race… On and on until they justified to themselves- despite the pleadings of their human side- that they could physically abuse others.

As they repeatedly lied to themselves, they slowly lost the ability to differentiate the truth. They forgot how to use their own moral compass to point them north. With their brain conditioning to act according to the will of their leaders and not to respond to their own feelings, they lost the ability to stand up for themselves until they were stuck in something much bigger than themselves.

woman in black hat

The only remedy is to start telling the truth.

Flip this process on its head. Start your brain to creating new connections- ones that support the truth. Build your character to be stronger than it is today- step by step. Tell one truth, and get a little stronger. Tell another, and you’ll gain a little confidence. Keep it up, and you’ll start forming a habit.

Lying to yourself or to others hurts your soul. It weakens your character. It is childishly seeking your own good at the expense of others. It is failure to accept responsibility or consequences for your actions or thoughts.

Do yourself a favor. Tell the truth. You don’t have to shell out everything about your personal life to everyone you come into contact with. You don’t even have to answer questions that are directly posed to you if you don’t want to.

But don’t deliberately deceive others or yourself.

For more information on transforming your life through honesty, click the image below!

Radical Honesty: How to Transform Your Life by Telling the Truth

2) Effect on Children

Let’s apply this to parenthood.

What do you imagine your child becoming when they are an adult?

I’m sure they are smart, successful, confident, in control of their lives, capable, and effective. They make wise choices and positively influence the people around them. They have families, careers, educations, and happiness.

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That’s every parent’s dream for their kids.

Honesty directly influences those marks of being successful in two ways.

  1. What are the odds that the person described in section 1 could raise a kid like that?

Kids learn from our example.

If we constantly lie to ourselves, the kid will know it. Kids pick up on much less.

They know the difference between what we say and what we do. They know when we are hypocritical or when we fail to practice what we preach.

Kids whose parents lie learn to lie. And they learn to mistrust others.

person looking in the middle of two beige cushions

2. Let’s say your kid learns to lie from watching you or others around him. He becomes the person described in section 1. What are the odds that the person described in section 1 could have all those positive qualities that you wish for your child?

Yes, he no doubt has some positive qualities, but he is short changing himself.

If your child learns to lie to himself, it will be much more difficult for him to develop into the person you want him to be.

Is a liar smart, successful, confident, in control of their lives, capable, and effective?

You tell me. And don’t lie.

Click the images below for more resources on teaching children to tell the truth!
Teach Your Dragon to Stop Lying: A Dragon Book To Teach Kids NOT to Lie. A Cute Children Story To Teach Children About Telling The Truth and Honesty. (My Dragon Books) (Volume 15)

I Love to Tell the Truth

The Berenstain Bears and the Truth

3) Effect on Society

Imagine a whole civilization of people who accept lies as a part of daily life. They try to deceive each other deliberately on a regular basis. It’s not too hard to imagine because it’s not too far from our reality.

(Just think about our politicians!)

There is mass decrease in character in society as a whole. (We know that such a mass falling from grace is possible from watching societies like Nazi Germany.)

In our culture, most people accept that lies are bad- unless it’s themselves telling the lie and until the reasons justify the deception.

We see this all the time- at work, in marriages, on TV, on social media, and definitely in politics.

People don’t stand up for their true beliefs. They trick themselves into fitting the mold (a mold of shame, hiding, and embarrassment).

Each generation teaches the next one to continue this path, which makes each new generation more and more stuck in bad habits. And then we’re stuck- controlled by forces beyond our control, living at the whim of what the majority wants for us instead of what we want for ourselves.

There it is.

Lies influence society as a whole, not just the people involved in the lie.

Can you imagine a society that didn’t live like this? What if we lived in a culture that was so honest that we could trust our politicians? I can’t even imagine that…. But I’m excited about any small step we can take toward that.

Click on the image below!
Getting Real: Ten Truth Skills You Need to Live an Authentic Life

Be a strong individual. Be in control. Be honest.

There is no such thing as an innocent lie. It impacts your soul and your character. This impacts your parenting. This impacts society.

The truth matters. Being real matters.

Tell the truth. Always.

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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