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stop the nagging

Day 240: You!
How’s your morning routine going? Do you hear some variation of this tape running every day:

“Get dressed. . . you’ve got to eat breakfast. . .brush your hair. . . do you have your homework? . . . don’t forget your lunch. . . did you brush your teeth?. . .it’s really cold out there, make sure you wear your gloves. . . “

Now, don’t you think, after hearing this tape several hundred days a year, our children (or spouses?) would know what to do in the morning without our constant reminders?  Maybe not.  If we constantly remind them, there’s no need to remember on their own.  And whose fault is it when they get to school without lunch?  Ours, of course.  We didn’t remind them. 

There’s a simple solution:  Check Yourself

It works like this:

  1. Set expectations
  2. Provide a system for success
  3. Say, “check yourself” and hold your tongue
  4. Let the consequences do the teaching
  5. Enjoy your coffee

This works wonders for kids of all ages.  When my kids were 4, 6, and 9, we created a simple checklist for morning, after school, and bedtime routines.   We talked about how this would make those parts of the day easier for me and for them.   I posted it on the door, and when morning came, I would just say, “check yourself” or “check the list.”  It took a bit of time to adjust, but soon they learned to take on responsibility for the routine.

The critical piece is this:  If they forget something on the list, we have to let the consequence happen.  So if he forgets his homework, the response is, “Bummer.  What are you going to do about that?”  Definitely empathize, but without “shoulds” and “I told you sos”.  We need to let the child be frustrated with his forgetfulness, not our blaming.  If we decide to rescue him (which I’ll admit I typically do once), be fully aware that it delays the lesson.  Chick Moorman puts it like this:

  1. Rescue once? you’re a nice mom
  2. Rescue twice? it becomes an expectation
  3. Rescue three times?  Congratulations.  You have a new job. 

I hope to teach my children to self-monitor and take on little responsibilities, so they become responsible adult citizens of the world.  Also, I’m lazy and don’t want to do all the work around here.    

Do we still have chaotic, crazy mornings?  Of course we do.  I mess this up a lot.  But when I’m using this strategy, it works for me.  I hope it works for you too.

photo credit: bookgrl

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5 comments to stop the nagging

  • Love the checklist. Thanks!

    Bonnie’s last blog post..Kids Journals

  • Excellent post. I’ve seen far too many sad examples (grown-up examples!) of what happens when mothers “rescue” their kids one too many times. When moms help too much, they send the message that their children are incapable. There’s nothing sadder than an adult who still relies on his/her parents for help and isn’t motivated to be self-reliant.

    Cindy L’s last blog post..Puttering

  • A dear friend of mine has been practicing this. To the point of telling her (old enough to be left at home alone) child that he knows what he needs to do to be on time (because he does) and then leaving him when he’s late to get in the car. It felt awful for her, but I doubt he’ll wait for all the reminders anymore. Great post :)

    Heather of the EO’s last blog post..Always both

  • LOVE this post! We are working on this exact philosophy at our house right now…shifting more responsibility to the kids, where it belongs. Thank you.

    I’ll be back for more…

  • Chillymeg

    What a great reminder to help our kids learn how to take responsibility for themselves!

    Thank you for this and all of your insightful memos (call them “mom-oh’s” !! :)

    thank you my wise friend!

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