How to STOP School Morning Battles

One of the most common problems parents come to me with is School Morning Battles.  It’s also one of the easiest problems to fix.  

1.  Write out a list of everything that needs to be done every school morning:  make bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, etc.
2.  Put it on the wall for everyone to see and make sure the kids follow through.   

That’s it.  Oh yeah, there is one final detail that sort of makes it all work:  INCENTIVE.

Incentive can be anything from watching TV before school to playing video games after school.

Too many privileges are treated as rights.  My kids could never have watched TV, gone on computer or anything like that if their bed wasn’t made, their dirty laundry wasn’t in the hamper, etc.  They never questioned the rules as never knew any different.

But if you are setting a new set of rules, it’s going to take a bit of time.  The challenge for you is to not cave in and turn on the TV in the morning before the list is completed, or to not nag, even be willing to let them go to school in their pj’s if necessary.

My son was running late one morning so I grabbed his uniform and said, “Let’s go”.  You’ve never seen a kid change so fast while wearing a seatbelt.  We were all laughing hysterically by the time we got to school and he was never late again.

Trust that this advice is sound which makes it easier to follow through.  It’s when you start to question yourself that you get into trouble.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with expecting kids to get ready for school on time to earn privileges.  

Have fair expectations and follow through.  Don’t expect a 7 year old to wash your car at 7:30 in the morning but he’s quite capable of putting on the clothes you laid out for him, eating his breakfast and brushing his teeth.  It’s amazing how quickly kids can move when they have incentive. 

Funny Story:  My then teenage son was laying around the house like a slug all day.  I suggested he get out and do some yard work.  He said, “I’m so tired Mom.  I honestly don’t even think my legs could hold me up at this point.”  Five minutes later he gets a call from a friend to go out and he sprang up off the couch and out the door quicker than I could blink.  Yup … incentive is amazing fuel.  

Happy Parenting,

Lisa.

More reading on incentives:  Chores & Money Management

Happiness is a Choice, not a Circumstance

Happiness is dependent on 1 thing:  CHOICE.  The only time it’s circumstance is when your health, loved ones or necessities are taken away.

My mom was an amazing woman.  She grew up during the Depression with 2 younger sisters, a mother with mental health issues and her father died when she was just 4 years old.  They had an unheated roof over their heads but not much more.  They often went hungry and the school would feed them cream to fatten them up.  They were in Winnipeg where it got 30+ degrees below 0 yet they were not allowed to complain about being cold, hungry or anything.  Their mom instilled in them a sense of gratefulness for what they had.

Mom had so many funny stories about growing up but one of my favourites is when they’d visit her grandmother who hated kids and would send them out in the garden to search for peas under 5 feet of snow.

What made Mom so special is that through all her hardships, and there were many, she was always cheery and positive.  Her charisma drew people to her.  She wasn’t just positive, she was also very funny, social and just plain nice.  Never said a mean word about anyone, that was too negative for her.

I was 14 when my Dad died.  I can remember it like it was yesterday as we were at home expecting Dad would die soon.  He’d been in hospital for 3 weeks in the final stages of cancer.  Mom and I got the call at noon and we cried in each others arms for a few minutes then she pulled herself together and said, “Weren’t we lucky to have him for all those years?”  I was like, “What???  Dad just died and you’re already searching for the positives in all this?!  There aren’t any!!!”  

But, that was just Mom.  She couldn’t help it.  Her glass was always half full.

They say we’re born with a certain nature.  It could be cheerful, serious, quiet, loud.  Mom was very serious and quiet growing up but she turned into a very loud, cheerful adult.  She always said it was a choice.  She CHOSE to be happy. 

I mostly got that throughout life but it wasn’t until she died in my arms that I really got it.  It almost felt like she’d passed the torch.

Happiness really IS a choice.  

I was at a party the other night and some people were talking about politics or something and it was all negative.  I wasn’t joining in the conversation and someone commented on it as I’m usually such a motormouth.  I said I just don’t function well around negativity.  A friend thought that was funny as I deal with so many crisis situations in my business.  I said that’s completely different as it’s all solution based, not just dwelling on the negative.

That’s why I don’t let clients talk about their problems for more than a couple of minutes at a time.  What’s the point???  I get it, I know there’s a problem, now let’s work on the solution.  Let’s focus on being happy.  

Happy Families are my goal with BratBusters.  I want you all to be happy with yourselves, happy with your kids, your kids to be happy with you.  I want everything to be positive.  I see problems as opportunities to learn and grow.  

Disclaimer re. youths in crisis:  I do not recommend my methods to others as they are not based on formal training, just experience and intuition.  Every situation is different but here is an example of how focusing on the positive can be a real asset: 

I was talking to a youth in a psyche ward after a suicide attempt.  I’d been working with his family but hadn’t met him previously.  I introduced myself but he just turned his head to the wall.  I sat there quietly flipping through some ancient magazines and talking to myself about how lame they were.  After an hour or 2 he turned and looked at me.  It worked, I’d gained his trust.  When I left awhile later the nurse asked what was so funny as heard us laughing.  I said, “He was telling me how he’d tried to kill himself and we were laughing at what a failure he was at it.”  A couple of years later he was still doing okay so … fingers crossed.

I won’t bore you with all the psychological mumbo jumbo but the jest of why that worked was that I’d normalized his suicide attempt.  He didn’t need to feel ashamed, he wasn’t crazy, he’d just screwed up and it almost cost him his life.  Really tough to do it again when you’ve been giggling with someone about how ridiculous it was.

Mom taught me that, she could ALWAYS find the humour in a situation.  She knew how to put people at ease, to make them feel good about themselves. 

Mom chose to be happy and knew how to spread the happiness.  What a gift.  What a woman.  

Do you choose to be happy?  Do you teach this to your children?  I’d love to hear from you.

Warmly, Lisa.

 

More Happy Reading.

You Know Disciplining is Necessary, but how do you Get Started?

You know you have to discipline.  But where do you start?  I’ll break it down into 3 steps:

1.  Adopt a calm demeanour (will elaborate on this below).  It doesn’t have to be who you are or what you’re feeling.  It’s just a demeanour.  If you’re stressed, yelling, losing it, the kids are going to focus on that, not rules or anything else.

2.  Pick just 1 rule and 1 consequence for every member of the family (refer to my “3 Step Parenting Plan” (below) for this.

3.  Follow through with the rule and consequence 100%.  If you mess up, start again and pick another rule and consequence.  

The point of this is to win one battle, just one.  Once you master that, the next ones get easier.

What are the best battles to start with?  The ones that are measurable and daily.  They could be bedtime, mealtime, etc.  

Let’s eIaborate on your calm demeanour.  It’s along the lines of “fake it till you make it”.  Once you start to see results with this new you, or this pretend new you, it will start to become genuine.

When I first started working with troubled teens I’d make the inside of my cheeks bleed chewing on them trying to stay calm.  I knew those kids were testing me but I’m still human.  I knew that the quickest path to getting positive results was always to stay calm under any circumstances.

I really lost it once with a troubled teen.  He was into cutting and had suicidal tendencies.  He said I may not see him the following week as he wasn’t sure he wanted to be around anymore.  I grabbed him and growled, “If you kill yourself I’ll kill you!”  He thought that was pretty funny and our sessions continued the following week.

I hope this helps,

Warmly,

Lisa.

Are you a Leader or a Bossy Friend to your Kids?

Almost all of the parents I work with are highly intelligent, successful and confident.  They’re stunned that they’re having problems with their kids because they’re so good at everything else.  The reason their kids are challenging them is usually because they’re Bossy Friends instead of Leaders.

So what’s a Bossy Friend?  It’s a parent who tries to be friends with their kids but when the kids get out of hand they become bossy and often yell and just lose it because the kids won’t listen to them.

I was definitely friends with my kids but I was the Leader first and foremost.  Once you get that figured out, let the friendship and fun and happiness roll right through the teen years.  You just have to exercise your leadership every so often to remind them who’s in charge.

Being in charge isn’t about telling them what to do, being bossy or “demanding” respect.  It’s about being a calm leader, trustworthy, consistent, predictable and always willing to listen.  You give respect to get it.

So what are you putting first?  Friendship or leadership?  Think about it, it’s important.

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

Note:  Coaching probably isn’t what you think it is.  It’s not about telling me how you got where you are.  I don’t work that way at all.  I just work on moving you forward in a positive direction, it’s all goal and results driven.  For more on coaching.