So in last week’s blog post I gave you ways to control yourself so you can control the interactions with your children. I’m sure some of you where like, “What?” But it works. Kids are always trying to get adults off center and tipping towards a meltdown. When you don’t let that happen, the game is loads less fun for your kids. They give up, after a while, and start listening.
Once you’ve got control of yourself, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Control The Environment
- I own all the stuff. I do. Since children legally cannot enter into contracts without the implied consent of their adult guardian, the adult guardian actually owns all the stuff. You should see kids’ faces when I explain this. They cannot legally buy anything without your implied consent and therefor ownership. Now let an evil laugh loose, bwa-ha-ha! I therefore control all the resources in this environment. Toys, phones, stuffies, video games, gaming systems, i-pods, tablets, etc. Once you have this attitude, your children will know that messing with the rules leads to the next point.
- I will take all the stuff in SMALL increments. Never, never, nunca, not at all, do you ever take all the stuff at the same time! Your kids will tempt you to do this, “Just take it all!” Yah, I’m not that dumb. When you have all the stuff your child no longer has anything to lose. That’s how action movies start. The hero has nothing left to lose and the fight is on. Take stuff from your children in logical ways and small increments. Take 15 minutes of their favorite TV show. Hold them back from the first house while their siblings get to trick or treat that one. Take one action figure at a time. When they start throwing the rest at you, put them back in the room and talk through your emotions. “I think you are wanting to throw your stuff at me so I’ll get really mad and take everything away from you. Then you’ll be all melodramatic and hope that I lose my cool even more. I am mad that you threw toys at me but I will keep my self-control. You don’t get to have that.” Stick with this and be consistent.
- I will take the stuff quickly. My son has had to buy back his toys with his allowance because I told him to clean up and he played for that hour instead. Fine. I cleaned up. It all went into a bag and he could buy back any object in the bag for $1. He had $13 saved up. He remembers that very clearly. Say what you want, give one warning only, then take something quietly. No screaming (control yourself first), and no further warnings. It’s good to remember that you don’t have to take the phone or the x-box to mess with access to them. I can recommend Circle, a one stop for controlling internet access from your phone. No more YouTube videos at 1am if the little rotter’s tablet won’t be allowed access! (Yes, we have dealt with that at my house.) Circle usually about $99 and well worth it.
- My wallet will be open for business not charity. Stop giving your children money outside of Christmas and their birthdays. This gives you leverage to ask for chores, homework, instrument practice, whatever. It’s the carrot for good behavior. Carrots don’t mean anything if your kid has them everyday without having to do anything. Give the carrots back their meaning. Hand out less.
- I will take control of my house and I will get adult help if I need to. Want your kids, and possibly your spouse, to know that you ARE the new sheriff in town? Have a friend come over and help you clean. If you have the $, hire someone who will help you clean and organize. Either way, kick everyone out of the house and get ruthless. You are the parent, you have the right to throw random crap away. You especially have that right if the random crap is in a pile under the bed that hasn’t been touched in years. If the original dust bunnies now have grandchildren, you have the right to thoughtfully toss that. Now introduce the family to the new standard of clean and let them know you expect it to stay that way. Use consequences both negative and positive to reinforce how you mean it. If you are in a situation where you can’t do this, then do a small version of it. Taking control of the physical space gives you a visual message and then communicates the same thing to the rest of the family. Give yourself that message. Even if it starts in a closet no one else sees and then spreads from there. Physical control of the environment helps you feel better.