dear compassionate – rules

So I am going for round 2 of dear compassionate.  This week I am highlighting a parent who is struggling to get his two boys, aged 6 and 8, to follow a simple family rule of no wrestling in the family room.  Just this past Saturday night they broke the rule and while going all WWF on each other, having the time of their lives, they accidentally spilled a glass of cranberry and soda all over the carpet.  The part of the story that I personally love, even though I know this parent did not find it funny, was that they blamed each other for the spill.  So off to their rooms they went and eventually they were called out to set the table for dinner and within 17 seconds precisely they were wrestling on the couch again.

Well I have opened my drawer of compassionate thought and I had to dig deep here because we all struggle with this.  Some days I handle it better than others and you can guess that the days I don’t handle it well are the days that I neglected to take care of myself.  There will not be a blog that goes by that won’t remind you all how important it is to take the time you need for you.  Your kids are creative geniuses and they always have their A game on, so facing your dynamic offspring with your B game will often result in despair.  We want kids that have gumption, spark, wherewithal, and as I like to say a little piss and vinegar.  We don’t want robots that listen to every word we say and sit prim and proper at the table using their utensils as outlined in the latest edition of the etiquette book.  Ok, well some days I want that, but that would be boring and lack any kind of enthusiastically inadvertently annoyingly brilliant energy that our children show up with each and every day.  So how do we handle this?  All of our kids break the same rules day in and day out and we wonder why they can’t get it?  Here’s the thing, they can’t get it.  They are too busy living life running from one thing to the next, exploring the world and living like the masters of their own design.  We parents should take a page out of their books.  So now that you know the cold hearted truth about the fact that your kids can’t remember your rules, what do you do when they break them?  Well I invite you to take one giant step back, pocket your anger for a moment and look at a much bigger picture.  Remember that our kids are famous at learning via modeling.  That’s why when they were little their favourite toys are the ones that mimic you.  The toy kitchen, the home depot drill, the mini vacuum cleaner and it’s why you might hear the odd piece foul language and no they didn’t learn that word at school!  So as you parent your children who are breaking your rules remember that they are looking at how you behave.  As well, they too one day will be parents and we will want them to be patient and loving towards their children.  In this situation we know the boys love to wrestle and they have some energy they are trying to expend in doing so.  Hence how would this look different if instead of sending them to their room they were sent to an acceptable place to wrestle or sent outside to get their energy out?  It saves you from getting mad and reinforces the acceptable place.  The problem is that we all want to believe that while being punished and sent to their room that they are thinking about how they will never break the rules again and how they will make a point of remembering not to wrestle in the living room.  Taking some time in a room is a good way to cool off before trying to connect with your child, but their room rarely works as a think tank for better behaviour in the future.  This point was proven, as the boys came out and started wrestling in the living room again, precisely 17 seconds after they were released.  There is also the possibility our kids are breaking the rules to get our attention.  If as a parent you feel that is the case it might be time to set up some more quality connective time.  Maybe you jump in the wrestling pit with them or maybe you know that night you need to play a game of cards after dinner, or read a chapter of their favourite book, or plan a date over a cup of hot chocolate…  this list is endless.  I swear our children love us and they want nothing more than for us to grow up and stop throwing hissy fits every time they misbehave!  xo

The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.

Oliver W Holmes