I work Monday through Friday coaching the swim team from 4:30 to 8:30.
So I’m not really around once all the kids are home from school to help out with homework, but I am 100% the default parent in that department.
Number 3 and 4 get home from school around 3:00, so they know if they need help, they need to let me know as soon as they get home.
The younger kids don’t get home until 4:00 and then we basically get in the car and go to the pool, but fortunately they don’t really have any homework yet, so I don’t need to worry about them too much.
I have let both Number 3 and 4 know that I am available for help with homework from 3:00 – 3:30 during the week.
This is a Positive Discipline strategy.
It teaches the kids to respect my time, and it lets them know I’m not at their beck and call 24/7. It enables them to take responsibility for their work, and it takes any pressure to nag them to do homework off of me.
Numbers 3, 4, 5, and 7 are all on the swim team.
Number 3 swims from 4:30 – 6:00, Numbers 5 and 7 swim from 6 – 6:45, and Number 4 swims from 6:45 – 8:00. So my husband picks up 3, 5, and 7 from practice and brings them home most nights when they are done. I bring Number 4 home after her practice, and we both get home around 8:30.
Last night by the time I ate something and got upstairs to say goodnight to everyone, it was about 9:00.
As soon as I walked into his room, Number 3 asked me to print something out on the computer for him.
We have two computers. One is mine. I don’t like the kids to use it because I’m afraid one of them will do something to it, and if that happens, then I’m screwed.
The other computer is about 4 million years old, it’s super slow, and it doesn’t often work correctly. So the kids hate using it, but that’s the one they are supposed to use.
Number 3 and 4 have been using it to print because the ancient kid computer often has trouble communicating with its printer.
But something happened about six months ago to my computer, and now when you want to print something out, you have to save it first and then open it up and print it.
I don’t know how this happened (I blame the kids) but it’s a major pain in the ass.
So Number 3 did try to print out whatever he needed to print out after my husband brought him home from swim practice last night, but he didn’t know how to save it, and so that’s why he waited until I got home at 9 pm to ask me to print it.
I asked him how long he had known he needed to print this out.
He told me he’d known for two days.
I was annoyed.
But you know what I did?
I went into the office to print it!
I had forgotten all my rules.
Sometimes it’s so hard to remember! You just automatically revert to old rescue behaviors without even realizing it.
I felt bad that I wasn’t around to help him, but I was around the day before, and I was also around from 3 to 3:30 before we had to leave for practice.
Luckily my printer was out of ink. I remembered this as I was about to sit down to print whatever it was he needed.
I went back into his room and told him I had a momentary lapse of reason and I wasn’t going to print it.
He got upset, told me he was going to get a zero and fail and get in trouble and a whole bunch of other awful stuff.
I told him that was a bummer, but hopefully he’d remember this the next time he had something he needed to print out at home.
Then I said goodnight to him and went downstairs.
I was glad I had caught myself.
This morning Number 3 ate his breakfast really quickly.
I wasn’t really paying attention, but about ten minutes before the bus came I heard him upstairs in the office printing something out.
On the old computer.
I had assumed he had tried that route first last night.
Apparently he hadn’t.
But the point of the story is that when I held Number 3 accountable, when I didn’t cave (after momentarily falling off the accountability wagon and quickly getting back on), he was more than capable of doing what he needed to do on his own! He knew he wasn’t going to get any help. The thing I was really happy to see was that he cares. And he cared enough to do whatever he needed to do to print that paper out.
He is learning responsibility and independence without any yelling or nagging or lecturing, and I’m not enabling him or losing my fucking mind the way I so often was before.
It’s a win-win!
Am I convincing you to give positive discipline a try yet?
I’m telling you, it works! And as I just explained, it’s not about giving your kid what he wants and letting him get away with stuff.
Totally the opposite!
Plus, being a parent is a tiny bit easier and a tiny bit more enjoyable.
And isn’t that the goal?