It’s really easy to blame your child when their behavior is less than stellar. Right now in my house, my seven year old and five year old seem to feel they are entitled to everything and anything. I have given them the “you need to be grateful for everything you have” speech, along with the “you need to earn these things, not just expect them” speech, and the ever popular, “money doesn’t grow on trees” talk. I constantly feel like a broken record and after pondering why my words of wisdom aren’t sinking in, I wondered if I could possibly be to blame.
Why do my boys think this way and believe it’s okay to ask for something new every day? It’s almost as if they expect it. What led them to believe that this is normal behavior? Then it hit me like a ton of bricks and I finally figured it out. As parents, we have to step back at times and understand there are consequences to the way we parent. We are constantly helping to shape our children’s minds and at times, don’t realize how careful we must be when communicating with them.
As the wife of a traveling husband, in charge of three little boys, the dog and the house all week by myself, I need all the extra hands I can get. I feel the seven and five year old are old enough to help me bring in the groceries, help unpack them, take out the garbage cans, help play with the baby while I am cooking dinner, etc. I think children SHOULD earn their dessert, SHOULD earn their computer or television time, and SHOULD help out as part of their chores for no reason at all, other than it is expected of them.
When I ask them to assist me, I feel a bit guilty at times and now realize I tend to overcompensate with a reward. “If you help me find your brother’s pacifier while I get his bottle, I will let you stay up a little later tonight”. “Whomever finds my cell phone gets a dollar”. “Mommy, can we have ice cream? I promise I will clean my room when we get home.” NO WONDER THEY FEEL ENTITLED! I started to notice a correlation between my parenting methods and their behavior. I am realizing that there is usually an incentive! I am teaching them that if they are helpful, they will get rewarded with something, instead of teaching them they should help others because it’s the right thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, I am a total believer in positive reinforcement, but that reward doesn’t always have to be monetary or something material.
As soon as the lightbulb went on in my head, I knew I had to make a change. When asked why my son had to unload the groceries, I didn’t want to respond with “because I said so”, since I truly think that is a bogus, easy answer that is confusing to kids. Instead I told him that he is helping Mommy and doing a good deed, along with the fact that he is old enough to do chores. I explained that helping Mommy helps him since I can get dinner on the table more quickly and that it feels good to help others without expecting anything in return.
As parents, we need to admit when our parenting skills backfire! Part of mastering motherhood is discovering your faults and making a change! The secret to becoming a Mommy Master is actually realizing it’s okay to fail. We make a mistake, we try to figure out what went wrong, learn from it and try again tomorrow. It’s also good for our kids to see we are not perfect and do not have all the answers. I always tell my boys that mistakes help you learn and that everyone makes mistakes, even Mommy. 🙂
TOGETHER WE CAN MASTER MOTHERHOOD™