Dear Parents and Caregivers,
I spend a lot of time in my Jackson Hole News & Guide columns suggesting that parents focus on who they want their kids to be as a foundation in raising their children. Columns titled “Think who, not what, you want your kids to be” or “Rather than wanting 'what’s best,' start with a vision” ask parents to get to the heart of who they want to be as parents and who they hope their kids become.
Knowing our “why” in our parenting worlds can help anchor us to a practice of showing up every day for our children in a way that helps them develop into the who: kind, capable, resilient, generous and contributing people. Why are you parenting? Why did you become a parent? What was your vision when you held your newborn in your arms?
Sometimes our current reality doesn’t match our vision. We are not always the parents we set out to be when our kids are not doing what we want. We become naggy, bossy, demanding, angry and my go-to: critical.
Often these default responses come because we don’t know what else to do (and they are often remnants from how we were parented). We can continue to “wing it” and hope that someday our kids will fall into line and behave according to our expectations, but ask yourself: do these strategies of nagging, bossing, time-outing, and punishing really work? Do they get the behavior to change for the long term and do they get you to your “why”: a strong mutually respectful relationship, a child who can think independently, take care of herself and be considerate of those around him, and a parent (you) who your child will later describe as encouraging, accepting, supportive, loving or fun?
Or, you can parent with a plan. Think about it -- we make plans for most things we do: getting a project done at work, meeting up with friends, cooking a meal, or going on a trip. And you may have plans that involve your kids: bedtime routines, getting out of the house or helping with chores.
Yet I’ve heard from so many parents that while they have established routines or charts, nothing is really working. Bedtime still takes an hour and ends in tears. Getting out of the house is still filled with nagging reminders, refusals to move forward and stressed parents. And kids still don’t contribute in the household even though chores have been established a long time ago.
Introduce Vicki Hoefle’s parenting roadmap. What is a parenting roadmap and how does it work? Find out by reading my column in this week’s Jackson Hole News & Guide.
Creating a roadmap to reach family goals
JACKSON HOLE NEWS & GUIDE:
School starts in about a month, and while I don’t mean to stop the summer fun, my next column doesn't come out until mid-September and I want to offer some tools.
At this point we don’t know what school will look like: fully in person, distance learning, or a hybrid of the two. This uncertainty can be unnerving and challenging for some.
The fears of going back to distance learning can be big. Figuring out how to work while also taking on the job of a full time teacher and behavior specialist was hard enough in the spring. The thoughts of doing this again for an undetermined amount of time can be daunting. Yet I encourage you to put any anxieties about what you can’t control on the back burner and stay in the present moment, focusing on what you can control.
Regardless of what school will look like in the fall, having routines and a plan in place is where you can have the most influence in making a smooth transition from summer back to school.
Parent educator Vicki Hoelfe created a tool she calls a parenting roadmap. The difference between a parenting roadmap and the routines and charts you may have created with your children is that the focus of the roadmap is on you, the parent, not the child. It’s about what we as parents ourselves can do, rather than trying to get the children to change. And while, yes, we do want some of our kids’ pesky behaviors to turn a corner, the way we will have the most influence is focusing on ourselves.
The great thing about roadmaps is that they can work for anything. You can apply them to any challenge you have or change you want to make: summer boredom, excessive screen time, helping around the house, being more fun as a parent, homework hassles and so on.
Using the example of morning routines, here’s how it works:
Identify where you want to be: I want to get out of the house on time in a calm manner with everyone owning their mornings, feeling good about each other, taking responsibility for themselves, and making small contributions to the greater functioning of the family.
Identify where you are now: I am stressed and rushed. I nag, remind and micromanage my kids. They dilly-dally, noodle and refuse to get dressed and do their jobs. There are sometimes tears, tantrums or bad attitudes. We are rushed and frequently late.
Identify the steps you will take to bridge the gap: Think about what needs to happen in order to get out of the house in a calm manner with smiles on your faces. First I need to consider my go-to responses of micromanaging, doing everything for my kids, nagging and scurrying them along. What would happen if I stepped back and let my kids figure the world out on their own? What are my own anxieties that keep me in that hot seat of barely containing myself when the kids go at their own paces? What are my beliefs about how a “good” family should function in the mornings and how is that impacting how I show up?
Rout this out. If you don’t your default response will come back to rear its ugly head.
Next ask if your kids know how to do all the things you are expecting of them. Are their clothes accessible? Do they know how to make toast or fix a bowl of cereal? Do they pack their backpacks, make and remember their lunch, put their dishes in the dishwasher, get themselves up with an alarm clock? If not, begin teaching them - one skill at a time.
Ask your kids how they would like their mornings to go and what is important to them. Do they want some snuggle time, play time, or time to finish their homework? If so, talk to them about adjusting what time the alarm is set. Help them create their own morning routine that works for them.
Then, here’s the hard part: step back. Allow time for training. Allow for mess ups and mishaps. Notice progress and improvement. Comment on all the great things they are doing rather than nagging about the opposite.
And be patient. Remember your goals of fostering a strong relationship and independent children through the hubbub of getting out of the house. My nagging and micromanaging only teaches my kids that they aren’t capable and that I will do everything for them. It certainly doesn’t bring us closer, and it certainly doesn't make the kids feel good about themselves. Learning new skills takes time, just as learning to change our responses will take time.
Having a roadmap that is written down and posted where you can see it serves as a reminder to you about how you will behave and what you will do to foster a healthy relationship while also fostering your children’s independence and capabilities.
If you are interested in creating a parenting roadmap but want some support, Rachel offers individual and group coaching sessions at rates that work for individual family budgets. You can find more here.
Rachel Wigglesworth has an M.Ed. in Parent and Family Education and is excited to explore the world of raising children with you!