Change vs.Transformation -Part II

To bring about transformation (a change that is purposeful and survives the test of time), we parents need to:
·        Step back and assess the situation
o   A close friend‘s daughter (Let’s call her S) used to hate going for a bath. What generally is a happy time for most children would be a battle of wills for the entire family. The mother, grandmother and the help were at a loss! And somehow, my friend would be able to effortlessly steer S to the washroom with dignity and grace. When I asked him the secret, he said “Whenever S needs to take a bath, I ask, shall we take your teddy bear for a nice warm bath?” She readily agrees!
So, think. Are you using an axe where you need a knife ? Are you pushing where you could be singing and laughing? Is there an easy way out? My daughter (aged 5) hates walking the long way to the bus stop. I was at my wits end.  One day, I introduced the concept of back walking. Yeah, it takes us around 10 minutes extra every day, but it is so much fun! And she taught the younger one too!
So, give your concern area a thought. How can I make this fun?
·         Have you set your expectation correctly?
o   Do you really expect your 2 year old to share? Do you expect your 15 year old to sit though a kirtan? Are you being reasonable when you ask for 8 year old to stop television after a fight with friends and attend to chores? Parents often turn up to say- When I was your age…. Well, times have changed.
Set your expectations and if in case of doubt, talk with your child. Ask him like an adult- Do you think you can say, mop up the mess you made? Or can you take over the responsibility of picking up the newspaper each morning?
Ask- don’t taunt, don’t advise, don’t give orders and don’t mollycoddle. Ask politely, clearly and firmly. Get to the child’s level physically or best , while on your lap, clearly state what your expectations are , handle their doubts if any and then gently remind the child around the same activity ,same time every day. If your child refuses to answer or says no bluntly, understand that it is years of behaviour patterns at work. Try again gently after a few days. Would you …., Please…., May I expect…. This will take time, but have faith- the child registers the politeness and warmth in your tone.  Also give options. When done, say Thank you. Don’t go on gushing to the neighbours.
Giving options: Will you clear up your room now or after 5 minutes?
Notice that here you subtly let the child know that there is no way he / she is getting out of his responsibility. The only leeway that you are kind enough to share with your child is giving an option to do it now or later. And if a child chooses an option, please let him be. Do not try to coax him out of his choice.
·         Motivation
Say it is time for school and your young one can’t be bothered with doing her bit. You end up yelling and shouting and basically asking her to move. While you palpitate at the thought of missing the bus, she moves around at a snail’s pace. You urge her at your vocal best and she says- kar rahi hoon… (Actually, mine says Hurry Upping!)
So, what do you do?
I made a deal with my daughter. Get dressed in time and you get to read a book before you need to leave for school. I remember being shell shocked at her speed. A friend of mine takes her daughter on a longer route to the bus stop – they call it nature walk. All Sriram Schools have a library in their classrooms- Children who finish with their assignments are free to go and read books of their choice. Reading with friends after finishing your class assignment- Serious fun!
Motivate the child- Not with tangible items but activities done or time spent together. I see some mothers groaning, but these are the very few years we have to influence them strongly. It really is worth the pain you are taking!
So your child doesn’t believe in organizing his school bag before dinner, make an incentive chart. See below.  Invest a weekend doing this with your child. My daughter can’t tell time but she knows when she has to play the role of a training coach!

·         Set rules and follow them through.
My daughter is allowed to go to the park only once they clean up the room. True, I still help but they know it’s their job. Many in my close circles  felt I was being mean to my children but I am reaping the rewards today. It took me time and family support to drive the point home and today, it takes us minutes to get ready to play.
Be careful when you set rules. Clarity of thought and action is vital. Empty threats are just that – empty. An “if you don’t wash your hands, I will not give you food” or a “Go to bed” when favourite cousins are over is futile. Random orders will toss the discipline out of the air.
·         Set a routine
Many will agree that a major portion of a child’s life is a tasteless concoction of clerical activities one after another. What makes it further unbearable is the complete mundaness of it! So, out lifesaver is our speed- that’s the only way to break the monotony!Set a routine. Make these habits a part of their DNA.My daughter would come from school, tired and hungry and would throw her bag on the floor. Did a creative bit on her (Refer to my earlier post at  Where does the School Bag go after School?) It took her 3 days to get into a rut of putting her bag where it needs to be. Sometimes, I pretend to look for the note her bag had sent her. And she jumps up to do the needful ….with a smile. At other times, we race to see who can put their bags in the right place first!
Our children are sweet and reasonable. Let’s give them a chance to enjoy with us!
Loads of love and luck,

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