Moms and Dads, it’s time to relax from the struggles of the school year….the lost homework, failed tests, excessive classroom tardies, forgotten projects and alarm clocks that governed our lives for 180 days. Following such a demanding school year, I can sympathize with any parent who wants nothing more than to forget their child’s troubles and aim for something better next year. That’s called hope and every parent needs it desperately.
HOPE! It gets us out of bed each morning, motivates us to try, to care and to continue sacrificing. When combined with effort, hope is a powerful force, able to propel us to new heights. The key word here is combined! Hope alone has never nor will it ever produce lasting and meaningful change. God is my witness that I hope and pray everyday to weigh less but until I begin to exercise regularly, hope, prayer and a flabby stomach are all I will ever have.
If you wish to bring about changes in your child’s behavior, simply combine your hope with these 4 steps:
- Reflect on the behavior (What is the reoccurring problem? forgetfulness, tardiness, dishonesty)
- Identify the skill deficit (Is it irresponsibility, disrespect, disorganization, poor time management?)
- Think of practical ways to develop the skill (List basic household tasks that can help develop the skill)
- Encourage (While learning new skills, children need support and guidance, not ridicule and sarcasm)
Wonder how this works? Simple. Let’s say that your child regularly forgets homework on the kitchen table, lunch in the refrigerator, gym clothes on the bed, or a library book on the floor. This reflects poor planning and organization. Now that you have Reflected (Step 1) and Identified the problem (Step 2), it’s time to Think (Step 3) of practical ways to develop your child’s ability to plan and organize. List basic household responsibilities that require planning and organization:
- cooking requires reading recipes, preparing and organizing ingredients in advance
- washing the car on a hot day requires planning and organizing materials in advance
- washing clothes requires separating like colors, planning and organizing materials in advance
Coaching and Encouraging (Step 4) your child while they learn to perform these new tasks is critical to their success. Whatever you do, don’t hand them a skillet and a recipe if you plan to check your email and catch up with old friends on Facebook! Until they master planning, organizing and cooking, you need to remain flexible and keep your schedule as free as possible.
Should you continue to practice these 4 steps when your child experiences future challenges, you will effectively, develop their critical thinking skills while also preparing them with necessary life skills. I believe such an outcome is something every parent should hope for!