Monday, June 29, 2009

Good and Angry (Part 2) Dealing With Bad Attitudes

Dealing With Bad Attitudes

Dear Mothers,

When you have six children, you deal with a LOT of bad attitudes daily. Living in a large family requires work. You simply CAN’T be selfish for very long. One person’s selfishness affects the whole family (parents included). My goal for my children is that they would WILLINGLY accept instruction. Instead, I feel like sometimes it's likepulling teeth to get them to do something for me. Their attitude shows me what is in their heart.

When I ask a child to do something, many times I get an “Okaaaay, Mom!” After reading “Good and Angry”, I finally know what to do about this bad response.

“Good and Angry”, written by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller says this…

“When you have asked your child to do something and they respond with ‘Okaaaaay, Mom!’ you know your child has an attitude problem. The response reveals some important things about a child’s heart. Silence can mean too many things. A child may comply while harboring anger, rebellion, resentment, or defiance. Teaching children to answer after an instruction gives you a window into their hearts to see if they’re responding well to the instruction. If not, a parent has the opportunity to help make some adjustments.

Some children develop patterns of arguing or making excuses when you ask them to do something. If your daughter tends to debate instructions, the underlying problem may be that she doesn’t want you to tell her what to do or doesn’t want to stop what she is doing to do something different. Another child may resist because he dislikes the task or shies away from anything that looks like work. Children sometimes view instructions as an intrusion into their lives. (This is so my oldest son!) If they like the instruction, they’ll follow through. If they don’t, they resist.

If a child begins to argue, complain, badger, whine or grumble when you give an instruction, stop the process. Don’t continue to talk about the task. Instead talk about the way you’re relating. Give a consequence if necessary, but don’t allow poor relating patterns to go unchecked. It might be necessary to get out the door or leave the store first, but don’t just let the problem of arguing go. Take time later to talk about any negative patterns that your child is developing.

Sometimes kids respond to an instruction by arguing because they believe they have a better idea. Parents can get caught up in these debates, believing that having these “discussions” is an honoring way to respond. After all, our children can have some valid points. Discussing alternatives can occasionally be helpful, but parents who encourage it too often end up with kids who can’t follow the simplest instruction without a dialogue. These children grow up to make poor employees and weak team members.”

After some of these discussions, I felt like I was on a debate team! Sometimes practicing “not arguing” is just what my children need. For example, I will say to Josh, “Please load the dishwasher.” If I get a big sigh and a rolling of the eyes, then I will tell my son to go on a break in his room until he is ready to talk about his attitude. When he returns to me and we discuss the bad attitude, I have him sit or stand in the exact spot that he was at before I gave the instruction. He has to respond to me with a good attitude or he goes back on break. I’ve done this 10 times in a row before my son finally changed his attitude and spoke respectfully. It was work to do this, but the results were so worth it. I have seen a huge change in him in regards to instruction because of these “practice sessions”.

I know that if I practice these concepts of getting the “heart of my child”, they will hopefully someday consistently follow directions without arguing and complaining. “Many children benefit from the structure of a routine to help them respond appropriately to instructions.”


Cat said...

What an excellent commentary on parenting and discipline, Stacie. I wish I'd known this stuff when I was raising my children. You are doing a spectacular job, not only of parenting, but also of telling us how to from your experience and research!

Parsley said...

Sounds like a must read.

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Great stuff, Stacie! I can see such a difference in you kids since you started using this. I know my the lives of my family have changed because of this book, too.

Valerie said...

We are really working on this in our home. My kids naturally want to dialogue every.last.detail of the request and why/how we should consider their thoughts on it. I read somewhere to say, "Obey first, then we may talk about it." As in, when God calls us to do something, we may NEVER know why! We need to obey anyway.

Also I have wondered if they have picked up this habit by hearing me question or second-guess my husband in every day conversations, or in driving directions, for example. Ouch.

Great post. I'm so late on these, but glad I discovered your blog! Love it!

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