Today we’ll tackle step three in Noble Mother’s 12 Days to Stop Yelling Challenge: Adjust your expectations. Your kids are kids, after all, and while things like being on time and cleaning up are important to us, they just don’t mean as much to a child.
You might impress upon your 5 year old that you absolutely must leave the house in 10 minutes or you’ll be late for her dance class. But she’s involved in creating an elaborate art project out of tissue paper and tape and all she knows is that she must finish this project before being dragged away to something else. Ten minutes or you’re late for dance? Means nothing to her.
So you ask her (maybe two or three times) to put on her shoes and get her dance bag. And while you’re rushing around getting ready yourself, you expect that she is doing what you ask. Except that she’s not. Then you are faced with physically removing her from her project and getting her shoes and bag. Now you are both angry and stressed. And most likely, yelling.
A better course of action – and one that has worked for me, although I haven’t perfected the method yet! – would be to get down next to her, tell her how amazing her project is and explain that she will definitely be able to finish it as soon as you get home from dance class. Remind her how fun dance class is and start to move her toward getting her shoes on.
I have a twelve year old who is very aware of time and lateness and getting things done. I also have a six year old who is not. Because my older child is so good at staying on task, I often expect the same of my younger child. And when she comes up short – because she has her own personality and she’s six after all – I get angry, yell, and compare her to her older brother.
Today’s challenge is about seeing your child for who he or she really is. Embrace it and work with it. Learn to build in extra time to gently guide your child in a task. Don’t expect that they are doing what you ask (at least with younger children), but make time to demonstrate to them what you mean when you say, “Please get your shoes on now, we have to leave in five minutes.”