In this series we are addressing strategies for parents to tackle persistent problem areas in their children’s lives. Often moms experience discouragement and frustration over their children’s negative behavior. That can be especially true for homeschooling moms because they are with their children 24/7. Despite Mom’s best efforts, the children may be out-of-control or have attitudes that she knows are not God-honoring.
Last month we noted the starting point for success—asking for God’s wisdom and help and not letting the situation worry and trouble us. Then we prayerfully came up with a plan. The background of this plan is in the last Mom’s Corner. Let’s take it up where we left off with the third point.
#3: You and your husband should determine consequences for whatever the children are doing that is keeping them from accomplishing what they should do in the morning. A very logical reward in this case would simply be the play time that would open up before breakfast if they completed their scheduled tasks quickly, thoroughly, and efficiently.
Consequences for Children and Chores
Consequences and rewards motivate us as adults, and they motivate children as well. A logical consequence for not getting to the breakfast table on time would be to lose free time when it is planned, while the reward is extra free time.
#4: The schedule continues even if children haven’t done what they are supposed to do. Free time is impacted to catch up. For example, if they aren’t dressed, they stay in PJs until they have free time. Then they get dressed and sit on a chair for ten minutes as a consequence for not getting dressed when they were supposed to get dressed. If they didn’t make their bed, follow the same pattern. Have them make their beds during free time. Then take an additional specified amount of their free time to have to sit on a chair as a discipline for not making the bed at the instructed time.
With this part of the plan, the mom doesn’t have to be stressed when the children don’t do what they are supposed to do. Daily life continues, the job will eventually be done, and there are consequences in place to help motivate the children to do better the next day.
I happen to know this plan worked because I received this information in an e-mail from the mom:
“Progress has been made this week. My husband and I have been working with the children regarding their morning chores. They are now being completed around 7 AM. This works out great for ME because my husband is still home to check them out before he leaves for work, and I can finish up breakfast. School is starting on time too.”
One week wasn’t a very long time for the parents to rearrange their normal activities in order to focus on the problem and then address it.
Here are some examples of child behavior issues that another mom knew she wanted to address.
“Brother was running after Sister in the house, and she was screaming because she didn’t want him to chase her.
“Brother and Sister left the dining room table and ran into the living room to get something before the other one did, and Sister screamed after Brother lightly touched her on his way running past her.
“I sent Brother and Sister back to clean up Sister’s room, where they had both been playing. Sister came out screaming, with Brother chasing her.
“Brother had a small Lego piece in his mouth, chewing on it (which we’ve told him many times not to do), and I told him to take it out of his mouth. He took it out and threw it up in the air, and it landed halfway across the room. (We’ve also told him many times not to throw things around in the house … he’ll just pick up pieces of anything he finds and throw it across the room.)”
I expect you can relate to the things that were happening in this home. While the children’s behavior was discouraging to the mom, her biggest discouragement was her responses to the children. She was becoming angry with them and raising her voice at them.
Here is part of the plan I helped her toward taken from the email I wrote her.
With all the examples you sent, you can deal with the problems—and they are problems—in a calm, gentle manner. I would encourage you to try ‘chair sitting’ as your go-to consequence for the children.
In case 1, you go to Brother and tell him that there is no running in the house. Then you put him on a dining room chair for 10 minutes. That is not only an easy, consistent consequence, but it gives you 10 minutes with no discipline necessary. Since Sister was running, too, and screaming, you could put her on the chair for five minutes. You would probably be benefited by a ‘no running in the house’ rule.
In Example 2, you would want to put both children on chairs for a designated amount of time, managed by setting a timer, and remind them that they weren’t being kind to each other.
Example 3, you still want to have them do the cleanup, but you can also sit them on chairs for some of their playtime—even if it is the next day.
Example 4, put Brother on the chair—for chewing on the Lego and for throwing it.
Utilize chair sitting time. It is a simple consequence that you can use consistently. It is your friend in being a gentle, responsive mother.
Chore Plans Help
With a plan in mind, this mom was ready to tackle the problems her children were having each day. She didn’t have to yell at them because she had an easy consequence she could use to help them learn to do what they should do and refrain from what they shouldn’t do.
Here is a little of what this mom experienced as she began implementing her plan.
“Numerous times since then, when Brother has done something wrong and I have not gotten angry with him, but gave the consequence gently, he has come to me later and apologized and asked for my forgiveness, and I could tell he was genuine. I so want to be a good example to our children, and to model a Christ-like attitude.”
That is a win-win outcome. The child is learning appropriate behavior, he is choosing to be sorry for the problem he caused, and Mom has the godly responses she desires. “He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding” (Proverbs 15:32). “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
Do you want change for your children? It starts with prayer, lets go of worry, makes a plan, and then implements the plan. I challenge you to focus on any problem you are having with a child using this method and see what the results are like two weeks later. “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).