Knowing the best way to respond in a situation and actually doing it, especially when hurried or stressed, is a challenge for us all. Changing a default response means you are changing a habit. Our brains were created with the plasticity required to make such alterations, but a transformation requires more than knowledge and desire. Practice is necessary.
For the IDEAL response to be relevant and effective, you must take action on your own behavior BEFORE taking action on the behavior of your children. We parents tend to be too easy on ourselves. Sometimes the truth is painful and difficult to receive. We expect our children to become kind by yelling at them to stop hitting their siblings. Or we expect them to be respectful by harshly demanding respect or obedience. If you will apply the “do-over” to yourself first, you will be amazed at how profoundly effective the IDEAL response is with your children. (For more information about the IDEAL response, click here.)
Here are your instructions and sample script:
Begin today to make the “do-over” a habit in your own life at home. Many times we don’t realize how unkindly or harshly we communicate with our children. I used to pretend I had a recording device in my pocket to try to give some accountability to the way I spoke to my children throughout the day.
Most days for homeschool families are full and often hectic. Misbehavior might catch Mom off guard because of the goals she is trying to accomplish and the many variables that can disrupt the pathway to those goals. Impatience and frustration are common reactions.
The way to interfere with those default reactions is to begin the “do-over” for yourself.
“SHUT THE DOOR!” exclaims Mom.
Remembering the IDEAL, she immediately adds, “I’m sorry. I said that very harshly. I’ll try it again more kindly, “Shut the door quickly, please.” Her re-do is said calmly, but with a gentle firmness that must be obeyed.
“GET OFF THE COMPUTER AND PUT YOUR LAUNDRY AWAY NOW!”
Re-do: “Oops, I’m sorry. I was yelling at you, and that wasn’t respectful. Would you forgive me? I’ll try a re-do now. I couldn’t get your attention because you are playing on the computer. Since this is the time you are allowed to play, I’m sorry to interrupt you. Did you forget to put away the clean laundry you folded? Your baby sister is pulling the stacks of clothes off of your bed, and laundry is strewn all over the floor of your bedroom. You need to stop now, though I know it’s frustrating, and go put your laundry away. I’ll give you a few extra minutes of play time if you go quickly and get the job done.”
Wrong responses aren’t always loud responses. The quiet, but seething, “Well, what do you expect when you don’t put your papers away after lesson time?” or “Your room looks like a pig sty.” These responses do not show respect to your child.
The re-do might be worded instead with, “Oh, I’m sorry the dog made a mess of your papers on the floor. Let’s see what we can salvage and figure out how to keep your school things off the floor.” or “After supper tonight, we are going to take some of your play time to organize in your room. It shouldn’t take long, and if we work hard together, you will still have some free time before bed.”
Three valuable tips:
- When you are unkind, disrespectful, or harsh to your child, he notices.
- When his misbehavior controls your emotions, he sees that he can control you.
- When you apologize for what you said and ask for a re-do, offering it immediately, your child sees that you are consistent in your demands upon him. In other words, it’s not a “do as I say and not as I do” scenario.
Start using the re-do in your own behavior this week. You will begin to see transformation take place in your home. If you would like more information about the IDEAL response and REST approach, click here.
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