Ah, Monday! Time to get up and herd the children to get ready for school. Yay, Friday!!! Time to herd the children to school, get to work, and then enjoy the fruits of my labor through the week. No matter what day of the week it is, there always seems to be a battle over time. In directing my children, ages 9 and 5 to get ready, it seems that my home has become a boot camp of sorts, as I herd them from activity to activity in order to get out of the home on time.
Sound familiar? I think that anyone who is has the luxury of being a parent has similar experiences. Especially as it relates to teaching children the value of punctuality, get them to school on time, and maybe even find some time, somewhere in between, to get ourselves ready for the workday to come.
Children are dependent upon us to teach them the values they need to succeed in life. However, in their push to establish their own independence, when combined with their natural capacity to take the path of least resistance, it is all to common get sidetracked in in the pursuit of something that can sustain our attention that is much more fun than getting ready. Devises, TV, cartoons, or even one’s best friend (the dog), can get in the way of creating a healthy flow of getting ready in the morning. Tony Robbins wrote:
As a society, were so focused on instantaneous gratification that our short-term solutions often become long-term problems. Our kids have trouble paying attention in school long enough to think, memorize, and learn partly because they’ve become addicted to instantaneous gratification from constant exposure to things like video games, TV commercials, and MTV. (Tony Robbins)
It’s no wonder, that in the need for instantaneous gratification, our children sometimes become sidetracked by things that ultimately frustrates us.
Today my son was tired. He awoke at 6:30 and he wanted to lay back down. He said to me half yawning, “Papa, can I sleep a little later in the morning from now on?”
I answered, “Absolutely not, you are barely able to get ready with the time you have.”
Yes, I can have a hard edge at time, especially when I have already been up and working by that time. He tried to negotiate, stating that his younger brother gets to sleep a little later. I then had to inform him that he has other things that he does in the morning that his brother does not have to do, primarily because of his age and the difference in homework and book loads that naturally exists between a child that is in elementary school versus pre-k.
From this experience, it became clear that I needed to go within to look at my emotional state. I was frustrated, that he had yet to learn the lesson associated with punctuality. I thought, I had to work harder. But then the “A Ha” moment arose from within. I don’t have to work harder, I just have to reinforce the lessons I am already doing in my household.
We yell at children because of frustration. Most of the time, we are not frustrated with them as people, but frustrated with the lessons they have let to learn. While time is only one factor that can frustrate us, it is one stressor that can affect the entirety of their and even your day to come. In this case, I was frustrated with time and my lack of organization, not with my children who were going with the flow. What was I to do, continue to go with the flow, or change it up as fast as I could?
In practical parenting, it is all about learning how our emotional responses affect our parenting decisions. It takes time, practice, patience, and understanding. The ideal here is not to be the perfect parent. Instead a practical parent strives to make emotionally informed decisions that allow their children to learn first hand the values you find most important. While frustration and stress are common events during parenthood, by seeing how you handle both, your child will be afforded an opportunity to see first hand the positive and negative ways we can handle situational distress. Frustration is a driving force behind change. It is also an emotion that you can utilize to your advantages by creating learning opportunities for your children to grow within. Until next time, I encourage you to talk with your children, use any and all opportunities to teach them your value system, and I look forward to any feedback that you may have.