Friday, May 26, 2017

Fostering Thinkers

A much-respected friend of mine, a very experienced mother of seven children, shared this gem with me when we were discussing micro-managing our children.  There are rules in our house and they are required to ask permission about certain things.  When there are far too many rules, kids eventually can operate within those boundaries and ask for permission instead of taking the initiative.  It's almost like they get tunnel vision.

I like to look at it as a country road.  There's a ditch on either side of the road.  Stay out of the ditch and walk in the middle.

She practices this concept with her children.  She asks,
"What do you think you need to do?"

This question is asked in a kind voice, often when they are preparing to leave the house or other such situations.  It takes time for the child to look around and say, "I need to put on my shoes, take a potty break and get my coat on."  The idea is that, when asked habitually, a child starts to get in the habit of doing what each situation requires.  It should be noted that using a 15 minute loading allotment would allow you to do this in a much calmer manner, rather than hissing like a Dragon Mama.  Not that I have experience with that or anything.

She is having good success with this question.  I had a good old-fashioned common sense type of upbringing and I want the Blossoms to have the same.  I want them to do what is right, obviously, but also do what makes sense.

Instead of going in the bathroom at shower time, fuming, quickly cleaning up or calling a Blossom in with a hearty, "Git back in here and clean up this pig sty!"  I'm calling them in and asking in as patient a manner as I can muster, "What do you think you need to do?"

The funny part is that nine times out of ten, they do know what they need to do.

This brings me back around to an old large family parenting proverb:

You can't expect what you don't inspect.

When you inspect things, they know that Captain Mama is watching and they usually perform to a higher standard.

The question is definitely useful for ages three, all the way up to teens.  I can imagine several scenarios for teenagers where it would be helpful for them to think through what needs to be done for their almost-adult problems and situations and then do it.  Mom and Dad could lend a hand or word of wisdom when/where needed.

Blossom4 is now four, but this is working well for her.  Mama stands besides her sweatshirt and discarded crocs, asks the question and she usually can figure it out pretty quickly.  It's not a big deal to refresh her memory on what she just did.

"You just came from outside.  What do you think you need to do?"

I think this could easily be adapted to toddlers as well.  I always talked constantly to my children as a way of interacting and building vocabulary and social skills.  For toddlers, I might say, "We're getting ready to go to the library, what do you think we need to do?"

"Yep, you're right!  Let's get our shoes on and grab our coats!  Will you please grab the library bag for Mama?"  I'm also a huge believer in sending the little ones off to do small errands for Mama, for so many reasons.  Helping them think, helping them carry out the tasks AND helping them obey is a whole lot of good stuff going on after asking them a simple question.

In being consistent this week, why not ask your Blessings, "What do you think you need to do?"


These pics were snapped at piano lessons today, where three extras, including the Little Camo Guy, 
tagged along for some good pond and field fun.  I'm happy to report that no one fell in.