How many of these phrases sound familiar?
“I heard you the first time!”
“Alright, alright. Keep your hair on…”
“Okay, okay—I said I'm coming!”
“Wait a minute!”
When do you hear these phrases the most? When you're trying to get the kids out the door to school? When you've asked the kids to clean up their room? When you want them to put down their device ready for dinner?
These moments can be enormously frustrating and stressful. It's like our children work on their own time schedule—a schedule that works exactly 13 minutes and 34 seconds slower than ours. Of course, their schedules switch to working 3 hours ahead of ours when it comes to taking them out for a treat or putting on an anime DVD!
I've got to tell you, there are some days when I get so sick and tired of my children just not doing what I ask them when I ask them to do.
But let's flip the tables for a moment.
What do you say when you are happily pottering around the house, baggy track-pants and crazy hair and your partner tells you that he needs a to be dropped at the train station—NOW!
Or what about when you are the in the middle of typing a delicate work email and one of your kids start to nag you about making pancakes for their morning tea?
It's not always easy to be calm and courteous is it?
If only my partner had given me a thirty minute warning that they would need a lift.
If only my child had known how stressed I was about getting that email right.
Believe it or not, kids feel like this all the time.
“If only my mum knew that this TV show would be finished in two minutes,” they think.
“If only my dad knew that I didn't hear him when he said we would be going out soon,”
“If only my parents knew that I feel really tired and don't have the energy to clean my room tonight.”
However, our children don't articulate themselves in the way we would like—or perhaps we don't always listen when they try to tell us how they are feeling. So, we end up getting angry responses like “Okay, okay!” “I told you I'm coming” and *enormous tantrum*.
Our households could be much calmer, peaceful places if we just got alongside our kids and let them know what we need them to do ahead of time. What if we tried:
“At the end of your TV show, could you please go and clean up your room?”
“Just to let you know, later this morning we are going to be going out to the shops, so you need to start finishing up your game, okay?”
“I really want you to be on time for school today. Do you think you could go and get your shoes on? Then you can play your game in the car on the way to school.”
Maybe one of the reasons our children are becoming angry and frustrated with us is because we keep on asking them to do things without giving them warning. We like to be given warning when we are expected to do something, so why don't we afford our kids the same courtesy?
We need to think about what we want our children to do ahead of time so that we can give them time to finish up what they are doing and prepare themselves for what we want them to do.
Why not try an experiment this week. Give your child a friendly 5 minute warning before you need them to:
- Get in the car
- Wash their hands for dinner
- Turn off the TV.
- Leave the playground
- Get in the bath
- Clear their room
I wonder if the number of angry outbursts begins to go down with the more 5 minute warnings they get?
Louise Griffiths is the founder of Exploring All Options, an educational consultancy and tutoring service that provides alternative ways to teach young people in a way that works best for them. Visit her website here.
Do you struggle to communicate with your children? Does your household experience more tantrums than peaceful discussions? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.