Tuesday, July 9, 2013

When Things Are Out of Control

Things are out of control at my house when I can no longer see the floor in my daughter’s room. “I don’t have any clean clothes!” she claims, though it is her responsibility to maintain and to wash her clothes. Things are out of control in my world when I find myself biting my tongue far too many times to accommodate a brief bit of teenage irritation “I don’t know, Mom.” “I don’t care, Mom,” she says with an eye roll, though the rule is to be respectful to one another. When I find myself frustrated, tired and working just a little too hard to stay calm and carry on, I know I am losing control. 

I am ashamed when things are out of control. After all, I am an officially trained, Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting Practitioner. Having an out of control home is like a dentist with cavities or a doctor who smokes.  (Reality check - good dentists get cavities and some doctors have poor health habits. Hence, good parents have trying times.) However, like diet and exercise, knowledge only works if you apply it. So, when things are out of control, I take a step back and look at what I am not doing. Nine times out of ten I am not Preparing for Success.

It is easy for me to drop Preparing for Success from the maintenance plan of a calmer, easier, happier home. Preparing for success seems almost redundant, unnecessary, and slightly annoying once you have cooperation and consistency on a roll. It is not as if I completely check out when things are running smoothly. I liberally support good habits with Descriptive Praise and Reflective Listening. These two skills are natural for me as I am a touchy feely person. Preparing for Success, however, takes planning, leadership, organization and hardest of all, being on time! Taking charge and providing structure is not particularly intuitive for we more laid back, spontaneous parents. We pay for that free flowing gift.  

When things are out of control it is time to bring out those dusty Preparing for Success skills and polish them up. I begin by looking at our family schedule. Often we are over booked. I am so busy with work, household responsibilities, or personal tasks that I fail to monitor or structure my children’s time management. Of course by nature, children fall off task choosing TV or internet over cleaning or walking the dogs. Once I have identified when and where things are going wrong, I make time to manage, and I make time for them to accomplish the task. I refresh the rule.

The first step with the children is doing "think-throughs".  I begin by asking something like “What is the rule about cleaning your room?” Often, when getting things back under control, I get a quizzical look so I might ask a hinting question, “When should your room be clean by?” I begin asking this on Wednesday, because the answer is Saturday noon.  Slowly, sometimes begrudgingly, we mentally get back on track. We begin to prepare for success. Then, as the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting program , I ask this question again a few times on Thursday and Friday.  Saturday comes around and usually things start happening without my asking. If not, a little follow on support with the first two steps of the Never ask Twice method usually finishes the job.

Preparing for Success sets the whole strategic plan in motion. If you don’t have a plan, if you don’t communicate the plan, you are guaranteed to go in all directions.  You will be out of control.  So when things are awry at my home, it is usually because people have forgotten to pay attention to the master plan - especially me.  

Amanda Deverich (see profile below)
Williamsburg, VA

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