help4yourfamily

Create the family you want to have

Quick Jobs for Kids

written by, Kate Oliver, MSW, LCSW-C

The chore list

The chore list (Photo credit: demandaj)

Do you ever get tired of the constant routine of getting upset because your child has not done an agreed upon task or said something insulting to or about you, or bothered you while you were on the phone…again? It always seems to end in the child apologizing, you telling them why they shouldn’t do that, threatening with a consequence next time, only to find that they do it again when you are distracted and you just have a redo. Sorrys start to feel hollow when they are said about the same thing one hundred times.

Even though it’s my job to tell you that accepting what we would call a “repair,” (i.e.- I did something damaging to our relationship and now I am trying to fix it by saying ‘I’m sorry’) is best for your relationship with your child, I understand that this can feel more and more difficult to do as a parent when you feel stuck in a rut and like your children get to breeze by with a sorry and no real consequence.

If this sounds like a familiar routine in your house, might I recommend a little trick I like to call “quick jobs.” It’s a list of quick tasks a child can do around the house to help out when they have done something wrong. It’s not a “your grounded forever” kind of thing, it’s not something that has a child doing an extra 20 minutes of chores. These are for the day-to-day grievances, the ones kids say “sorry” for but you have to wonder after a while, “are they?”

Here is a quick list of tasks. You need the list, or this will just be another good idea that you will forget when the time comes (if you are anything like me). You can have fun making them up next time you are trying to straighten the house:

  • Dust the bannister
  • Clean all the door knobs in the house
  • Take the laundry from the washer and put it in the dryer
  • Help finish the dishes
  • Clean off one surface in the house (the dining room table, the end table next to the sofa)
  • Clean out the sink in the bathroom
  • Wipe down the outside of the dishwasher, oven, or pantry

Quick jobs are for when you are irritated and need a little something extra. When you use them you can say, “I realize your sorry but I would really know it if you ________.” If a child decides not to do it, you can point out that perhaps they are not so sorry after all and that is a bigger discussion.

For today let’s just focus on a quick fix that helps set things right again and teaches children how to really “repair” when they have done something they wish they hadn’t.

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March 21, 2013 Posted by | discipline, help for parents, parent support/ self improvement | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

4 Reminders to help the holidays go smoothly for everyone

9-7-4 Easter

9-7-4 Easter (Photo credit: cobalt123)

If you are a parent who is going to celebrate Easter or Passover this weekend please take a moment to remember a few things that will help the holiday’s go smoother.

1.  Remember that your children have not done this holiday very many times yet.  Even a ten-year old has only experienced this holiday 10 times and does not even remember the first two.  Reviewing the expectations and schedule changes so kids can be prepared is very helpful.  Will there be family gatherings that are different?  Will you be playing outside finding eggs in your Sunday clothes?  Is the church or synagogue service longer or done differently?

2.  Remember that while we might be tense and/or worried about things like being around family members we don’t often see, or whether we will be able to pull off surprises for the kids, our children- while excited- are also picking up on the feelings and tone we set.  If we overextend ourselves, our children will not have as good a time either.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard about the yearly parental meltdown around a holiday!  This means, try to keep everyone on the same sleep schedule- including you.  Eat and drink as needed… you get the picture.

3.  Even though you already spoke with your child about what to expect for the holiday, if you are going anywhere else, gently remind them of the expectations again in the car on the way there.  Also talk about adult’s expectations of them.  You might be expecting them to act differently at grandma’s but they don’t know that unless you tell them, or after it’s already too late.   You may even want to rehearse with a small child about what to do if they receive something unwanted.  It is age appropriate for a child, even up to age six to ask if “that’s all” or to say they do not like something.  Offer alternatives, like asking a parent quietly in the next room about whether more is coming to them, or saying thank you for a gift or treat they do not like.

4.  Possibly most important.  Allow yourself to be in and experience the joy of the present moment.  Anything that goes wrong now are memories shared and as long as no one got permanently hurt- they are not disasters.

I hope everyone, whether you celebrate or not, has a wonderful weekend!

April 6, 2012 Posted by | help for parents | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Trash Your Behavior Charts!

Kids (film)

Kids (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a pet peeve as both a parent and as a clinician about behavior charts.  You know, those charts where kids get stickers for doing things they are supposed to be doing anyway, and then they get a treat or prize for doing it enough times?  I am aware this opinion may be upsetting to some clinicians and especially school professionals where behavior charts are relied upon so heavily.  As a parent, I just think they are annoying and hard to follow for me.  As a clinician, I believe they set up a tit for tat system in a family where everyone starts measuring who did what when.  For my parents with children with attachment disorder they are especially frustrating because by the time a child has earned the prize, you might feel as though you are so angry about all the work it took for you to get them to do the chore/ desired behavior that you don’t really feel like giving them anything.  Sometimes kids make you sorry you gave the prize after the fact by deciding now that they earned the prize they don’t need to do anything for a while.  What a pain.

I have a much better alternative to traditional behavior charts.  It’s the only one that works and it requires little effort from you!  This will take all of two minutes of your life.  Here’s how it works:

  1.  Take a piece of paper and write down one or two (I would only do a couple at a time because it’s easier to keep track of) things your child does that bug the heck out of you i.e. lying, “forgetting” to do their chores, sassing back.  Pick something that is realistic for their developmental level.
  2. Think of a few prizes you might like to earn that involve self-care: a massage, getting a cup of tea with a friend, take a long bath, etc.
  3. Let your child know that you are now giving yourself a behavior chart.  When you are able to successfully handle this behavior from your child in a manner you feel is appropriate (without you yelling, whining, engaging in a back and forth battle), you get a point!  Decide how many points you need to earn to get a prize.   Tell your child that when they engage in that behavior from now on you (not they) will earn a point.
  4. When they do engage in the behavior, calmly remark on what an opportunity this is for you to earn points so you can take care of yourself.  It’s important for parents to take care of themselves when kids are giving them a hard time.  You can wonder aloud how long it’s going to take to get your prize.
  5. This is the most important step.  Follow through!  When you earn your points, do the thing you said you would do to take care of yourself, even if you don’t feel like it.  Remember you picked things you like to do so perhaps they can help you now.

I have successfully used this “behavior chart” with many parents now and I have used it myself.  It works like a charm.  I used it with my own daughters who kept coming in at night to have me take them back to bed when they had their normal cycle of lighter sleep.  I modified it so that if one kid came in, she earned her sister a point!  Guess who sleeps without interruption for weeks at a time?  This lady, right here does! J  It’s really a win-win either way since even if you don’t get the desired behavior right away (and you will because kids get annoyed at the idea of earning you a prize) you at least get some self-care.

April 5, 2012 Posted by | attachment, discipline, help for parents | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

   

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