How many times have we said to our kids, “What were you thinking?”
Meaning – weren’t you thinking?
Does this comment sound familiar? “How many times do I have to tell you the same thing over and over again?”
Meaning – don’t you listen or think about what I say?
And how is this working for us Moms? Do these comments make our kids listen or think any better?
Not at our house. My six year old daughter’s feelings get hurt when I question her like that and she shuts down. My eight year old son rebels more because I offended him.
Have any of you had this conversation with your spouse lately – “Honey, why don’t the kids think for themselves? Why do they keep making the same mistakes over and over again? When will they ever learn? I’m going absolutely crazy and I’m going to go wacky crazy if they don’t start thinking for themselves.”
I confess, at least six to eight times a week I have had this kind of conversation with my husband.
It’s exhausting to constantly tell my kids why they can’t do something over and over again.
Recently I have changed my approach. I realized that my kids will not think for themselves if I keep repeating myself. Nagging and complaining isn’t teaching them anything. They just tune me out when I lecture.
Now when the kids do something wrong I will ask them questions like the following –
-What do you think will happen if you do that?
-Why is that not a safe idea?
-How can you handle this differently next time?
-How do you think that makes others feel?
-What is the right thing to do?
My six year old daughter is in beginning swimming lessons and the instructor requires kids to keep both hands on the edge of the pool at all times except when she asks them to do something. It’s hard for kids to wait patiently for their instructor. It’s natural that kids want to play in water. I feel for the girl. But she has to follow the rules or she can’t be in the class.
For weeks my daughter breaks this rule. And for weeks the instructor and I tell her to keep her hands on the wall. Until I finally asked her why it is important to keep her hands on the wall.
Her response – “It’s important to keep my hands on the wall so that I don’t go under water and can’t get back up.”
It wasn’t until she said the reason out loud that she started to do what she was asked.
And she also knows that she will have to sit out from the class if she doesn’t respect her instructor’s requests.
It’s a new approach for us to try in our family and I look forward to watching my kids make wise decisions as they learn to think for themselves through tough decisions.