The ice started to come down here in Dallas/Fort Worth last Thursday afternoon and it didn’t stop until 24 hours later. Icemageddon was upon us and except for about an hour Sunday afternoon we were barricaded in our home from Thursday night to Tuesday morning.
We have six kids. Cabin fever doesn’t begin to describe the new reality we experienced.
I’d like to state that I love my kids. They are really sweet and kind, but kids have boundless energy and they need an outlet for that energy. Playing outside is usually a good option, and it would have been if we had any snow, but we only had ice and it was, as ice tends to be, very slippery. So inside it was for most of the time.
The thing that has been obvious to me is that you don’t really know someone until you’re stuck in the house with them for four days. Sadly for me the person I’ve learned the most about is myself.
I was reminded during our “shut in” time of three things my children do that I don’t’ like. And I mean I really don’t like. These things drive me bonkers…partly because they are annoying behaviors, but mostly because I realize they do these things because we have trained them.
I had to look into the mirror and I didn’t like what I saw. So here are the three areas in which I think we have failed our children.
- We have taught them to yell
- We have taught them to whine
- We have taught them to nag
Three things we all hate unless we’re doing them, and being at close quarters for 90 hours has been an intensive time of learning for me.
Our kids like to speak at high-volume and they like to yell when they don’t get what they want. And where do you think they learned this behavior? That’s right from watching good old mom and dad. We can, on occasion, be fairly explosive in the volume department kind of people. We usually ask nicely, then directly and then we yell if the kids don’t respond. I am not proud of myself but I am trying to be honest.
What are we teaching them? Are we training them to respond when we speak or are we teaching them that yelling gets you what you want? It’s sadly the latter. Good job us.
Another tactic employed in our home is to change the tone of voice used with each subsequent ask. I don’t only get louder, I get whinier too. Guess what? Our kids are whiny when they don’t get what they want. It’s annoying because, well, whining is annoying. It’s frustrating because we have been their primary teachers on this one as well.
I realize that I parent with the misguided notion that if asking once is good then asking five times is better. And so the trifecta is complete with nagging. If the kids don’t respond I repeat the instruction/request in a whiny voice with increasing volume levels many times.
The common thread in all three areas is multiple asks and lack of proximity. All I am doing is training my children in the way they shouldn’t go because it’s easier for me.
For things to change…
The good news is that things can change, but for things to change I must change. What I must to do when I need to be heard by my kids is stop what I’m doing, walk over to them and look them in the eye before I address them. It is my responsibility to do the right thing. I need to train them and not have them training me. It turns out that laziness does not equal good parenting. Relationship requires proximity. If I want them to hear me I have to be close.
What are you struggling with as a parent? Do you struggle with any of the three things listed above?