Saturday, September 18, 2010

What traits do you want for your children?

There are many traits, characteristics that people "hope" their children have and yet they often seem surprised at their child's behavior.  One of the first questions that I usually ask parents when they tell me something they want to change about their child is, "Which of you is he/she most like?"  Many times the behavior they are wanting to change in their child is something that they don't like in themselves or in their spouse.  Rarely do I get the reply that the child is not acting like one or the other parent.  The answer is clear, work on changing your behaviors and you will see a change in your child's behavior.

Here is an example from a couple of years ago. A mother was complaining that her daughter would not clean her room no matter how many threats or bribes were offered.  I asked her to close her eyes and think of three rooms in the house, her bedroom, the kitchen, and the living room and to tell me what they usually looked like.  She told me that they are usually in disarray because she is a busy mom but that they had a comfortable, lived in feel.  Children use spaces based on how they find them.  If they find them cluttered then they feel comfortable with that.  If they find neatness then they are not comfortable if things are out of place.  What I am saying is that you have to find the right balance for you and your family.  Start with having a family night where you set some goals.  Then have a 10 minute "quick clean" where everyone has to put away or straighten, or clean 20 things each.  It is amazing how fun this can be.  Then let the family know that at the end of every day there will be a 10 minute "quick clean" before bed.  Be consistent.  Some people get out of the habit by making excuses about it being past the child's bedtime or tonight would not be convenient.  Do it anyway.

Additionally, children always need their own money so start special pay for special jobs.  But, if pay is involved then an inspection / evaluation of performance is also required so don't let them off easy.  This will help them distinguish the difference between a job done right and a task to be completed.  Eventually you can even have children serve as each other's job evaluators.


  1. How true this is. I'm quite certain its why my kids drive me crazy at times... they are doing the things that I hate about myself. I'm ashamed to admit change takes more dedication than I'm willing to muster at times. But your reminder is inspiring!

  2. So good!!! When is the book signing? Love, J