I’m sure you can fill in the blanks in this all-too-common scenario. It’s time to clean up from dinner. Your _______-year-old is eager to finish the job, because she’s rushing to __________. So, she decides to multi-task: three crystal goblets, wobbling in the right hand; five china plates, teetering in the left hand; the water bottle tucked under her chin and the salt under her arm. You take one look and exclaim, “How many times do I have to tell you that if you carry too many things at once, something’s bound to fall?” Thirty seconds later, you hear the proverbial crash and you don’t even have to turn your head to see what fell. How do you react?
As you visualize this scenario, rehash your usual speech, and listen to it. Really listen. Because it’s an ideal time to internalize the message and start living according to our own words.
Every mother knows that her parenting has some “rough spots.” It may be the five-minutes before your doctor’s appointment that transform a normally sane mother into a screaming shrew. It may be the morning madness, when the kids leave to school, holding one shoe in one hand, a homework assignment in the other, and leaving the lunch and homework pad forgotten on the kitchen counter. It may be on calm afternoons, when the house is struck by “Hurricane Kids.” Everyone tumbles from time to time. The million-dollar question is: If we keep on crashing, why do we insist on repeating the pattern again?
Every family is a corporation. Now is an opportunity to take stock of our past year’s inventory. Sit down with a paper and pencil. List the gains of the previous year. Analyze how you achieved these victories and pat yourself on the back for them. Then, take a good, hard look at your losses. See what went wrong. Think about the underlying triggers, the inevitable hitches and the small tweaks you could’ve made to avoid the botch-ups.
An astute educator once commented, “A parent once complained to me, ‘My son makes the same mistakes over and over again. When will he ever learn?’ I told the parent, ‘And you respond in the same ineffective way over and over again. When will you ever learn?’”
In order to plan for the oncoming year, think of small, tangible goals. Ask yourself, “If I would be a fly on the wall in my house, what’s a noticeable change that I would see?” Be realistic. At the same time, be optimistic.
As we work, let’s encourage ourselves by:
1. Keeping a written record on an index card, evaluating our daily progress on a scale of 1-10.
2. Posting reminders to keep us focused.
3. Coining a catch phrase that will empower us, such as “Catch flies with honey” or “No is another way of saying, ‘I love you,’” or “This too shall pass.”
Finally, don’t forget all the parenting lessons about unconditional love, patience and positive reinforcement when you try to train yourself to reach one notch higher. Be patient with yourself. Compliment yourself. And of course, reward yourself!
Have you occasionally thought about other people that they should practice what they preach?