By Sarah Evans
Take time to discuss the new house rule/s with your children. (see Part 1 here)
When beginning a new house rule, it is important to take the time to sit down with all the members of our family to discuss the upcoming changes.
We cannot expect success if we do not clearly tell our children about the new house rule/s, and describe what we expect to see from them. For example, if we want our children ‘to be respectful’, we need to describe what that means, as it can mean something different to each one of us. And so our children need to clearly understand how we see the issue of ‘respect’.
Make the rule concrete and easy for your children to ‘see’
For example: We want you to show respect for us (mom and dad) at all times. For us this means the following:
– Do not argue back
– Use a calm voice when speaking (do not yell)
– Use polite words (do not curse)
As we can see, these examples are mostly stated in a positive way. This is because it is important for us to tell our children what we want to see. It is also OK to tell them what we do not want to see but if possible let’s try and focus on the goal.
Here there are only three examples of what respect looks like but this can also vary depending on the individual problem behavior we are working on with our children. It is important that we make it relevant to our situation.
Once we have decided on a new rule, and on what this rule looks like when it is followed, it is a good idea for us to make a poster (especially for younger children). This can serve as a visual reminder both for us and our children, and can help avoid confusion later on.
Explain how you will help your children to follow the new rule
It is important for us to think about the various steps that we will need to take in helping our children follow the new rule: we have an important role to play.
If we are clear in our own minds on how the new house rule will be applied, we can then clearly explain it to our children. The following saying is helpful here ‘we plan to fail when we fail to plan’. Here is an example of a conversation between parent and child to get our brain juices flowing:
First I will tell you what you are doing wrong (which rule you are breaking): example:-“I see that you are angry right now but you are yelling at me. When you yell at me you are not showing me respect and you are breaking one of our house rules”
Then I will tell you what I would like you to do differently: example:- “I know you are angry about what happened but instead of yelling at me I would like you to go and spend some quiet time in your room. When you are feeling better we will talk”.
If I do not see a change in your behavior, I will give you one warning: example:- “I have asked you to stop yelling and to go to your room. You have two choices, you either go to your room to calm down now, or I will have to put away your game console for thirty minutes this evening”.
If I still do not see a change in your behavior, I will enforce the consequence: example:- “Ok so you have made your choice. You will miss thirty minutes of play on your game console this evening”.
Before having this conversation with our children, it is important to think about different ways to enforce consequences.
Not one size fits all, and so it is important to think about the following questions:
– What motivates my child? What do they like to do?
– What motivator can I add to encourage good behavior?
– What motivator can I remove to encourage good behaviour?
Each of our children have different things that motivate them, and it often takes trial and error and time to discover what works best for each of our children. We need to encourage them to work with us, as the bible tells us the following:
‘(Parents) do not provoke your children to wrath; but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord’. Ephesians 6:4
Ask God to guide you for each step along the way, and be willing to make changes whenever necessary (and tell your children about them!). The Holy Spirit is the best guide that we have and so we must remember to ask for His wisdom in order to receive it.
We will look at the issue of consequences and punishment in more detail next week, as this will need a blog all of its own.