Monday, April 12, 2010

the strader family....rules! (ha ha, get it?)

everyone has different ways of parenting.

i know a lot of people who have read parenting with love and logic and i did and loved it. that book helped me to realize that i was doing more of the "helicopter" parenting with caleb. because i was so afraid of him getting hurt, or sick, or having his feelings hurt by other kids, i was holding him back from learning how to navigate through life as an independent individual. learning consequences for his actions, instead of me protecting him from those consequences.

there's a fine line for me though, when it comes to parenting. making sure there are strong boundaries without being too controlling. (i'm still working on this) i'm a big believer in being strict when the kids are young and then loosening up the reins as they get older.

i remember when caleb was about 18 months to 2 years old, i questioned how strict we were. we were living in spanish fork at the time and we had a lot of kids around his age in our church ward. it seemed like every sunday at about 30 minutes into sacrament meeting, all of the kids would spontaneously combust at the same time. one by one you'd hear some primal toddler scream, and then watch a parent haul their wailing kid out of the chapel. (i'm also a big believer in taking your kids out when they're screaming...but that's another soap box for another day.)

caleb would have those moments too, so either ben or myself would take him out into the hallway. once we walked through the doors though, caleb would immediately stop crying and try to get down. as i looked around i would see all of the kids who had once been screaming now were happy and content to be running around, with their parent following behind them. i thought that it was fine, so i let caleb down to party with the other toddlers.

however, week after week we went through this, and i noticed that caleb's tantrums would start earlier and earlier... soon erupting almost as soon as we sat down. it began getting more and more difficult to keep caleb in the chapel.

it wasn't just that i was no longer getting anything out of the meeting...i realize that during this time of my life with young kids i might not come home completely fulfilled and enriched with all that i had learned at church. however, what bothered me is that i felt like we were totally getting played by an 18 month old kid.

so after ben & i talked about what to do, we decided to change things up. we already were bringing toys & snacks for caleb to keep him entertained, so we didn't have to add that in. but the next week when caleb decided to throw a tantrum, we walked out of the chapel, and took him into one of the sunday school rooms that was empty, pulled out a chair for him, and had him sit in it with his arms folded.

needless to say, he did not like it.

over and over again he'd try to get up. he would cry and become upset. at that point ben or myself would sit down next to him and calmly let him know that he could come inside and play with his toys and books in church, or he could stay out here and sit in this chair with no toys.

it took a couple of weeks, but he quickly learned. he was given choices, and he would make the choice to come back in and sit down. one week though, he was having a tough time so i took him out in the hallway. unfortunately, the class that we usually had him sit in was full for some reason. there was a kid-sized chair already sitting out in the hallway, so i just had him sit in that with his arms folded.

all of his little friends were out in the hallway, and they each walked up to him. i stood there next to him, and realized that all of the parents were looking at me. and i had a moment. where i questioned,

are we being too strict?? is he too young for this??

but. within about 2 minutes, caleb said he wanted to go back inside. and stayed in for the rest of the time with no problem, playing quietly with his toys and books.

and i realized that even though he was young, he was capable of understanding...and also capable of sitting in the chapel and being content. we stayed consistent with what we felt was appropriate for us. it wasn't a perfect ride after that, but it sure became a lot easier.

when elder bednar visited our ward in north carolina, he opened up a meeting for questions. he was asked by one of our ward members how he was able to raise such good and righteous men. and he spoke about how he and his wife set strict boundaries for their children while they were young. that it was especially important while they were young for them to know what the rules of their home were, and that they were to act within those rules or earn a consequence. then as they grew older, they knew what the expectations were and they could be allowed more freedom.

you know, the whole "teach them correct principles and then let them govern themselves" thing.

as we listened i felt that what he was saying was true and so we continued doing what we were doing...even if sometimes to others we might have appeared too strict.

ben and i also felt it was important that our kids will feel safe in our home. so we don't allow physical bullying (funny though, we're having to teach leah this lesson more so than caleb) or saying mean and hurtful things to each other without a consequence.

we do have a lot of open communication with caleb (how can you not? the kid is a chatterbox), and let him contribute not only to making the rules with us, but also picking out consequences that he feels are appropriate for his actions.

so last year for one family home evening lesson we decided to sit down and create a list of our family rules. since caleb is young, we wanted to make sure that he understood what we meant when we said to "obey" or "be kind" or "respect our bodies." we let him explain what he thought it meant and then we would add in anything we thought he had missed.

my sister asked for a copy of them (she & her family were going to make their own rules) so i wrote them down here.

we decided to come up with 5 major rules. and here they are. again, the explanations for our rules are a combination of caleb's thoughts and ours:

  • be nice
  • stop yelling
  • don't say mean things
  • when you're mad, go to your room quietly without yelling
  • share
  • don't let others pick on our brother/sister/friends
  • tell the truth, even if we're afraid of having a consequence
  • do what we're asked to do when we're asked to do them
  • don't hit, bite, kick or punch
  • don't let others hit, bite, kick or punch you
  • don't let others touch your private parts-or show them to others-
  • respect each other's privacy-knock before you open a closed door
  • eat healthy. exercise. get a good amount of rest.
  • when asked by mom or dad, just say "okay" and then if you need to, come and talk about it after you have finished what you've been asked to do
  • make sure our chores have been done first thing in the morning
  • dad & mom are the boss, you can share your ideas, but we make the final decision
  • when we say prayers, we say them reverently
  • say you are sorry/forgive one another
  • say and think good things to each other
  • go to church every sunday (unless you are sick)
  • Love One Another

we wrote these last year, and so far they are working out really well. i'm thinking that we need to come up with a new one about safety...and include talking to strangers and that sort of thing.

i have them hanging up on a wall, and hopefully someday will display them in a fancier way then just written with marker on a piece of paper.

we're not perfect parents and we don't have perfect kids. and i don't really expect any of us to be.

and what works for our family may not works for another.

i'd love to hear some ideas of what works for you have any tips for what helps your family run smoother? (specifically when it comes to a strong-headed 13 month old? :)

***here's a link for a talk i liked about this subject.


Erika said...

Excuse me while I yell at my kids. ha ha. No really, I just did. Anyway, that's so funny, I just started reading "Love and Logic" today! Anyway, love your rules, they are perfect. I totally agree with setting boundaries when they're young, and loved what you said Elder Bednar said. It's hard to be consistent with rules but it will pay off. Not that I am the expert, my 3 year old is about to go to BED NOW and it is 6:20 pm. Sigh. Anyway good post, AND I wanted to comment about your VENTING blogs post, it was PERFECT! I just enjoy blogging and enjoy reading other's blogs. Not that I haven't worried about comments or how what I write will be perceived, but anyway, loved it.

K Harker said...

Okay, I have to comment really quick on this one....When you were telling the story about church and the kids screaming in church just so they could get out to the lobby and play, I was thinking in my head "Don't EVEN think you are being too strict with your child!" As a matter of fact that is what we do, we find an empty room and make sure that it is NOT fun to leave sacrament meeting.

Let me share a story with you really quickly....
When E was maybe just 12 months old, at most 18 months old but I'm sure she was younger, we were in a BYU-I married ward (not 11th ward) and there were lots of young kids as you can imagine. Most of them younger than E at the time.

E was always good at sitting in church. She usually just looked around at everyone to see how many people she could entertain with her fun personality. It was a little distracting but at least she was being quiet.

One Sunday she saw a little girl that was about her age or older throw a NASTY tantrum and get dragged out of the meeting. I watched my daughter watch this little girl. We were sitting by the door and she saw that when the little girl got "taken out" they set her down and she began to laugh and play out in the hall. The whole time I'm watching my 1 year old observe this. I watch the wheels in her head turn and then not a minute later I see her put on her best show to throw a tantrum so she could join her new mentor. Since I watched the whole thing I KNEW she was playing me, and it shocked me that my ONE year old was trying to get away with this. What was I to do? I sure as heck was not going to take her out there. So I leaned down and in hear ear whispered in my most serious strict tone "This-is-NOT-going-to-work." She looked at me and pouted and said nothing, but her eyes said "it was worth a try."

My point in sharing this is....You are absolutely right in that these kids KNOW even at the age of 12 months they know they can work us parents over and if we let them, they will!

As a first time Mom with E at the time, it opened my eyes to how smart our children are at such a young age, and if we don't act on it right away it can be hard to reverse as they get older. So a BIG AMEN to you your whole parenting theory of setting boundaries early, I totally agree! I love your rules and we have done some thing similar but my problem is consistency, and rewarding, we're working on it ;)

Okay so that was not quick at all! sorry.

Michele said...

I love to hear what other parents are doing with their children. I love your home rules and how you posted them, that's a great idea. My boys know that at church that if they throw a tantrum they don't get to go play out in the hallway. They have to sit on the foyer couch or our lap and once they calm down we go back inside.

One thing that has really helped me everyday is to have a chore chart for each boy. It's a list of things they need to do throughout the day on a magnetic chalkboard that I made. I wrote about it on my blog recently, so go check it out if you want. Once they finish a chore they get to move that magnet to the other side. They earn tickets if they get it all done by the end of the day. The tickets can be turned in to do something fun like computer time, wii, park, etc. It works so well for my kids but I have to be consistent with it too or else my kids start slacking off.

aubrey said...

I think you're right on here! Just because kids are young doesn't mean they aren't capable of minding and they need to know from a very early age what the expectations are. When I was a kid if you got taken out of church we walked till we found a metal folding chair and that is where we got to sit...

The biggest battle I fight with my kid is room cleaning. I can't stand the mess. My oldest is a very stubborn child (and I so wish I could blame his disposition on his Dad...) and he just. doesn't. care. It doesn't seem to matter what toys or privileges we take away from him he just really doesn't care. The boy is nearly 7 years old and I don't feel like I should have to clean his room for him. We've tried bribes, threats, charts and rewards...and seriously, he simply doesn't care. I can throw away toys, refuse to take him to t-ball and yell, scream and cry till I am blue in the face and the boy is completely unmoved. I've gotten to the "You tell me what to do to make this better because nothing I am doing seems to be working!" point with him. And his response "Nothing." I'm very curious to hear if you've found anything that registers with your kids...

lynsey said...

hey aubrey,

i just wrote you an enormous comment back...and then our internet went out & i refreshed the page and it was GONE!!

i'm totally going to write you back though with some ideas to try with your little fella. it's just late and my brain is fried but i'll try again tomorrow!