One Way to Change What’s Not Working at Home

How smooth are your weekday mornings? I know mine could be smoother. In our family, we all tend to be night owls (although we don’t get to indulge in that when school is in session), and mornings are not our prime time. Unfortunately, when you need to get up, you need to get up. That is where we “could be smoother.” Sound familiar?

You may already know that I am a huge advocate for communicating with children. I believe in creating “team” in your family. You get much better results with your children if you allow them to help problem solve. It also gives them a tremendous amount of skills for their adult life. I decided to enlist the support of my children in creating smoother mornings. After all, they are the ones who live in their bodies.

Here’s what I did: The other day, I picked up my two youngest children from school (10 and 14 years old). After our usual check-in, our conversation went like this: “Guys, we need to change our mornings. Any ideas?” (They knew exactly what I was talking about.) My 14-year-old son said, candidly and with respect, “Well, mom, you keep doing the same thing in the morning, and then you think something is going to be different.” [Not what I was expecting to hear.] I thanked him for that honest feedback. I then asked, “What needs to be different for you, so you can get out of bed earlier? Since I’m not in your body, and you need to get up, it would seem that the difference needs to start with you.” He came up with a couple of ideas, which were helpful. What was even more helpful, though, is realizing that both of my children knew that a change was needed, but it did not dawn on them that they needed to be the change. They were waiting for me.

The following morning, I woke them up as usual with “good morning,” opening blinds, and my usual mom-love. After that, however, the “change” came. This was our conversation: “Good morning. It’s time to get up.” “Remember our conversation yesterday about doing something different in the morning?” Sleepily, “Yes.” “I know you’re tired. I know it’s not easy to get up in the morning. I’d rather be sleeping in too. But, we have to get up anyway. So, what we’re doing that’s different, since you asked for “different,” is if you don’t get up, and I have to come back and remind you, this is what will happen (and I shared the consequence with them).” It worked. They got up and we were off to a great start.

The next day, however, it didn’t work. (Children test change, so expect it.) I kept my word (important) and followed through on the consequence. It won’t take much time for them to become more self-responsible in this area, as long as I communicate well, be consistent, and do it with love. Do not do it from a place of anger.

When applying this idea to other situations and various ages and stages, just remember:

  • – If you consistently dictate to your children, it creates separation, resentment, animosity, and rebellion. They have no voice. That doesn’t work.
  • – If you let your children run wild, it creates uncertainty in them, fear, inconsistent behavior, and disrespect. There are no boundaries. There is no container for them to safely learn about themselves and the world they live in. That doesn’t work either.
  • – The third choice is communication. Part of that is creating a team, being consistent, keeping your word, listening, problem solving together. This works, because there is partnership and it builds respect. You are in charge, and everyone has a voice. Win/win.

There is so much we can do as parents to change the results that we are getting. It’s not that hard. Come join our upcoming parenting group and get some great ideas that will shift the dynamics in your home. Create harmony and joy today.

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