Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Saying It Out Loud

There are many times I find myself expecting something from my kids that I haven't actually told them out loud.

It's frustrating for them.

The problem is, I'm looking at a nine-year-old who should know a lot more than she does. Shouldn't she know not to push others out of the way. Shouldn't she be able to sit at the table with a semblance of manners? Shouldn't she know not to walk away while someone is speaking to her?

I guess maybe she should, but if she has never been taught, then how would she know she was supposed to know them?

So my nine-year-old doesn't come with nine-year-old skills. I just have to face that fact. Getting frustrated isn't going to help her learn them any faster.

Patience is key. Consistency is key. Anger is not.

I know this from experience.

Something that has helped me overcome any anger in this area is reading together.

This book is my favorite.

It's written for a younger audience than nine, but it's stuff she needs to know. We sit down and do one page per day, sometimes after dinner, sometimes before bed. It talks about saying "please" and "thank you," not calling other people names, and treating animals with kindness.

The blessing of using a book is that you're able to pre-teach the response rather than waiting for an incident to happen. If I wait until she calls her sister a name to teach her to use kind words, I'm going to teach it in anger. Feelings have already been hurt. But if we've sat down one evening after dinner to discuss name calling, maybe she'll choose better words.

Of course, I'm not living in a dream world. Chances are pretty good she'll still be calling people names even after we've been through that page. But the beauty of the whole thing is that when she does we can start with, "Remember when we read about name calling?" Correction will still take place, but it's so much better correcting something we have actually discussed rather than something that is completely new or foreign to her.

Think about ways to teach skills ahead of time. Books can be a big help. It's easy for her to discuss what people in books should be doing. And later on, when she finds herself in the same predicament, maybe she'll remember it on her own. If not, a little help from you won't hurt either.

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