Parenting

Work Before Play


Many families, ours included, have learned that breakfast is eaten after we are dressed and have made our beds. Dressing and making a bed somehow only takes five minutes when done before breakfast and take forever if done after breakfast. If it is your child's job to see that the pets are fed and watered, he should be required to do that before he sits down to eat. Wise parents establish a time line for when you expect the job done. For instance, a phrase like, "By the time I take you to your baseball game," or, "Before you can turn on the TV," lets them know what you expect. That way the kids know the ground rules and they are measurable. If the task is not done within the time frame, they recognize there will be consequences, either natural or logical

? Require some work from every family member daily. Then relax. If you are in a high powered or stressful job, you may find that you have a difficult time allowing either yourself or those around you to just be. There is a difference between leisure and laziness, and we need to recognize that difference. We need to be able to have fun and joy in our life. We want to reach the point where we are doing less for our children and more with them.

? If an older child has trouble with follow-through, consider a written contract with agreed upon consequences. We make it mandatory in our family that before a teenager can get a driver's license, she must have accomplished at least three service projects. She can choose to read to the blind, rake a neighbor's yard or whatever, but it's important that she learn to go outside of herself and extend service to others. Teenagers tend to think they are the center of the universe, and it is humbling to recognize how many other people are in the world around them.

? To promote good habits, agree to a much-coveted reward at the end of 21 consecutive days of positive action. What you are aiming for is called automatic action. It becomes such a habit that you don't even realize or have to think about doing it on a daily basis. For instance; making your bed, hanging up your coat, picking up your plate from the table, rinsing it off and loading it in the dishwasher.

? When your child has cleaned his/her rooms especially well, suggest he/she invite the family into the room to play a game of UNO or Monopoly. Let them bask in the glow of hospitality.

? Have a child put away as many items as the number of years he or she is in age. Then you pick up as many things as you are in age and let the child count. They LOVE this one, especially if you ham it up and say, "It's not fair!" a phrase they have probably used on you a time or two.

? Establish daily personal basics. If you list every little task on a chart, it becomes overwhelming. What you are striving for is automatic action. Most of us don't have to remember to brush our teeth and wash our face at night; it is just part of a routine. The more things become automatic, the more our minds are freed to explore and grow in new directions.

Judy H. Wright, Author, Speaker and Life Educator www.ArtichokePress.com

This article was written by Judy Wright, parent educator and author. Feel free to use it in your newsletter or publication, but please give full credit to the author and mention the contact information of JudyWright@ArtichokePress.com, 406-549-9813.

You will find a full listing of books, tapes, newsletters and workshops available on finding the heart of the story in the journey of life by going to www.ArtichokePress.com


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