Advice Wanted: Children

Here’s one of those rare opportunities where someone actually wants to hear your parenting advice!

Katherine, bless her heart, is one of the most incredible kids I know, and I don’t say that as her dad. She’s just awesome. We really struggle, however, getting her to get stuff done. A typical example is supper. We’re all done and gone from the table in 20 minutes. She often is there for 45. Another is getting ready for school. It takes her 20 minutes to brush her teeth because she stops and plays with her dolls, complains that it is too hard, complains that she doesn’t want to do it at all, and so forth.

This is pretty much the only thing I struggle with when dealing with her, and it’s not fun. For either of us.

Any advice?

Just for the record, I am not interested in this point in ADD/ADHD theories. I’m not discounting it, I’m just saying it’s not a concern to me. I know my kid, and she’s not ADD/ADHD. And no, I’m not in denial or anything.

What I’m looking for is ways of helping me deal with her natural tendency to love the world around her. I’m looking for ways of helping her focus on the task at hand. She’s naturally curious, inquisitive, and interested in just about anything. I don’t want to dampen that spirit, but at the same time, I need her to move at certain times. You should see the nightmare it is to get us out of the house when we’re rushing.

Anyway…. Advise away. For once, it’s actually welcome. ๐Ÿ™‚

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11 Responses to Advice Wanted: Children

  1. Jon Thorne says:

    i have 2 children just like Katherine.

    what works for me … is to manage my own emotions. By that I try my best to not get angry if we are late. I tell myself that being on time is not worth me having a fight with my child. My children are more important to me that being on-time.

    2nd I show my children how to be emotionally self-reliant. This gives them the power to choose how they want to feel about being late or not. And they are gradually taking ownership of what they do with their time …

    but above all … I remind myself … my children have the gift of living in the moment. when those moments are positive … I do my very best to not let my grown up need to be on time for a planned event … destroy their joy. i teach myself to enjoy the moment … and worry less.

    I guess I think Katherine is trying to teach you something … ๐Ÿ™‚

    hope that helps

  2. daveloveless says:

    That actually does help. A lot.

    I’ve had similar thoughts as you have, especially on controlling my own responses to her. I find that when I’m feeling good, having a good day, and in control, I handle the ups and down just fine. It’s when the day has been stressful that I don’t. But you’re right, it comes down to a personal level of emotional control and stability on _my_ part first. She’ll follow that lead I think.

    Great start to the advice.

  3. Sarah L. says:

    I tell my kids that every time we’re late, a puppy dies. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Really, one of my main issues with being late is that I don’t want to be judged by others, especially since when people make comments that people who are late aren’t respectful of others, selfish, etc. It’s frustrating, because every child is different and they don’t know what challenges I face when I’m trying to head out the door. I’ll be running on time and then there’s a poo explosion or a child suddenly has to go to the bathroom, or someone is screaming because their shoes don’t feel right, so they’re taking them off over and over. Times that by 4 kids and their various issues, and it’s very easy to be late. People say to plan earlier, but there are almost always last minute issues that suddenly arise.

    If my kids are late to school too many times, we get a letter from the school, so school mornings are especially horrible because I end up yelling at everyone to get moving. Then we go outside and the windows are iced over or something. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!

  4. Robert says:

    Have you read or listened to the tapes of Love and Logic? They have ones that are specifically for kids Katherine’s age too. Love and Logic has helped Jocelyn and I help Peter become a more responsible youngster, and it also takes a lot of stress out of parenting (in my opinion). If you implement it, the changes won’t be immediate, but they will come.

  5. Emmerin says:

    Try a kitchen timer. You could tie a reward to it: “If you finish your dinner in this much time, you get…” or you can just turn it into a race against herself: “How many things do you think you can get picked up off your bedroom floor in three minutes?”
    The timer thing is important though. The beeping is exciting.

    And love and logic is awesome. It allows you to slowly transfer responsibility to the kids because you work with them and help them think through things.

  6. I agree with Jonathon… don’t let emotions get involved, unless we’re talking about her doing something deliberate that is very bad, like hurting someone or destroying something. (I should be telling this to myself)! Because if you let your emotions get invovled, it becomes a power struggle instead of just turning the choice back on her and letting her deal with her own conflicting motivations. Also, being extrememly consistent with consequences, and choosing consequences that are actually fitting with the level of event we’re talking about. A good book: Parenting with love and logic. Has helped me immensely… sometimes I feel like I ought to go back and re-read it…

  7. And of course, beating. Make sure there’s beating.

  8. John says:

    There are times to move with collective urgency – e.g. the building is burning. At times like that, everyone needs to get up and move fast at the same time.

    Run a fire drill – so she knows (at the extreme) when it is urgent to move fast along with everyone else and it’s not safe to hang around and take it all in.

    At other times, people just move freely and independently on their own schedule and cycle. As long as she can be independent and sit at the dinner table even as the ice cream melts, that can be okay. A friend from college ran her life at this pace: she graduated top of the class and went on to live a fantastic personal and professional life.

    Between the two extremes it’s nice to be relaxed but still need to get to school on time. Talk about consequences of being a laggard – extra costs for missing a bus and driving to school, being late on getting homework done etc.

    As a practical matter, you could buy her an electric toothbrush (like one of these http://www.oralb.com/topics/why-power-toothbrushes-are-better.aspx). After you start it, they have built-in timers (that run for about two minutes.) Expert dentists determine how long to brush – learn from that and respect it as a guideline. Start the toothbrush and don’t switch tasks until done. And it should help prevent cavities too ๐Ÿ™‚

    Good luck!

  9. daveloveless says:

    All great comments so far. Sounds like I need to Love and Logic.

    John–Thanks for the thoughts on time. We’re trying to find that balance between independence and accomplishment; allowing her to live as she will while still maintaining a sense of order and movement along expected lines. The thing that we keep hoping is that whatever we do, we don’t want to damage her confidence and ability. This kid could be president some day. She’s that ambitious. She could also be a stay at home mom. She’s that calm, gentle, and nurturing. Whatever she does, we don’t want to be the ones to make her less than she could/should have been.

  10. jon thorne says:

    I would also add that I am trying to show my children how to avoid living on the results of other peoples’ thinking. To find their own future … using their own thoughts ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Pingback: Now that was interesting…. « the prodigal

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