Day 19: I am Thankful I Know My Limits

Because I have a couple of behavior issues with my children (and they all have something I’d like us to improve), I checked out a book that came highly recommended from a couple of different sources. The author is a well-known child and family psychologist; he’s been doing the research and applying it for 30-plus years; he’s here to give us parents the science we need to help our children improve their behavior.

I was very discouraged as I read this book. Because this program — which he assures me over and over again is short term (three weeks to a month, maybe two) — requires a point system, a sticker chart, and/or a system of rewards, small to large.

And I’m too tired to seriously consider pulling it off effectively. Especially with multiple children for multiple issues. I’d like Flora to sit down and do her homework without giving me grief. I’d like Kate to learn how to behave appropriately in public. I want them both to practice their violins at least three times a week. I’m sure M has something I’d like to improve — oh, how about sitting in his seat for dinner and actually eating. That would be nice.

I just can’t see doing a bunch of points, charts, and rewards daily.

Now, praise — I got that. Whenever I catch my children being good, doing what I want them to do, I praise them to the heavens. I cheer, I hug, I high five. I am specific.

“Kate, I am so excited that you are doing your assignment without constant reminding! How well you are printing and coloring! Your teacher is going to love it.”

“Flora, good job brushing your hair and putting it back this morning! I didn’t even have to say anything! You look very nice.”

“M, you have the nicest manners! Thank you for remembering to say thank you! That makes mommy so proud of you.”

I can do the praise shit all. Day. Long. And mean it, too. I unabashedly dole out affection and cuddling to my children as often as I can. I am trying to ignore the behavior I don’t want. And, of course, I am trying to model good and appropriate habits. I don’t want to spend the morning screaming about getting out the door. I don’t want to hover over my kids to get them to do their work.

I also don’t want to do a point system. If this makes me an abject failure as a parent who wants the best for her kids, I suppose I’ll have to cop to that.

One of my Twitter peeps suggested an app, and that’s something I bet I could do. I’m going to look into it anyway. And, who knows, maybe at some point … next year … I will have the wherewithal to take each issue and each child, and implement a system.

But right now? I know it would only be more stress on me. And that would be bad news bears for everyone.

Have you accepted your limitations? Are you still learning what they are?