This post will be broken up into two parts because it is very long.
Today I get a call from one of his maestra’s telling me my boy is reading a lot in class. At first, I think “Oh wow, that’s a good thing”. But it turns out the teacher asked him to put his book away and pay attention to other class activities. I am super excited that he is reading without anyone telling him to. I’m glad that he finds happiness in it on his own. It should be some form of entertainment, learning, and escape all at the same time. But, the problem is listening.
This past year it was tough because I felt like a broken record. I was repeating myself and asking him to do the same things day in and day out. Brush your teeth, hurry up, finish eating, take a shower, wash your dish, etc. It got to the point where it was starting to annoy me, so I know he was annoyed. I thought about how to handle this because he had no problems remembering to turn on my computer and watch a cartoon or a documentary about World War 2. So, I made a list-something I love to do-of all of the things I wanted him to do. The things he would be responsible for. And I made a list of all of the privileges he gets with help from him of course.
Now I know some parents will disagree with the method, but it has worked for me. I’m strict. My dad was strict, now I’m strict. My mom was strict about some things, but generally she was more lenient that my dad was. Now, I feel like that pattern is happening again with my son. But, I feel much more comfortable expressing emotion and feeling. I tell him I love him all of the time. I try to tell him how I feel, etc. And I ask that he do the same.
Now, back to the list of things. I decided I wanted to change it to a chart. So, I looked up responsibility charts online and found a lot of different examples for chores and many other things. I’m still trying to figure out allowance and jobs that I will pay him for, but what was nagging, arguments, frustration, whining, and yelling has turned into a more positive pattern. My partner helped me organize the chart. When he handles his morning activities (brushing teeth, making his bed, etc) he gets a point. When he cleans his room (sweeps, dusts, cleans up, organizes) he gets two points. And there are more responsibilities. But basically I award him for handling these things I’ve laid out with time to watch cartoons, play video games, or choose a dessert. I’ve also asked him to list other privileges he wants like sleep over’s, going out to the movies, or buying legos. These other things require “saving”.
This has worked out great because now, I just say go look at your list of things to do and handle it (based partially on other parents recommendations too) and he does it. If he doesn’t then he doesn’t get to do the stuff he wants to on my weekend. He forgot to do his chores once. I didn’t remind him. And when the time came to chill out on the weekend, there was no TV, no computer, and no privileges. He was pissed! But he learned a lesson that day, and hasn’t missed his chores since. I try not to punish him, but rather award him for the stuff he is able to handle. It has improved our relationship greatly because in 2013, my fiancée, myself, and him all moved into a house together. And he acted out because. Well, because kids don’t always know how to say how they’re feeling. To be continued......