Heading back to school and work, with the routine of the responsibilities, can be overwhelming and tricky, especially when our kids don’t feel the need to step up, comply or contribute.

This is not fun as a parent, and can leave us feeling very frustrated when we find ourselves reacting, punishing, or giving up, most often when we feel stuck or don’t know another way around it.

I know the feelings all too well, together with feeling inadequate, lost and at times guilty with my reactions.

When I was working as an Integration Aide part time at a primary school, I needed to leave for work at 7.50am to arrive for work at 8.45am. I needed a plan and I also needed to be equipped that they could fail. I spent a week practicing with the kids before the job commenced. Spoke to them and gave them choices about when did they want to make their lunches, brain food, recess.

  • Did they want a shower in the morning or after dinner?
  • Did they want to have their clothes ready at night or get them in the morning?
  • Did they want to make themselves a hot breakfast or something simple with cereal or smoothies.

I spoke out loud of what I was doing as I did it. “Oh, it feels so good having everything prepared before I go to sleep, it’s going to make things so much easier for me in the morning.” I bought them their own alarm and queried if they wanted to set it for 6.00 or 6.30am. I told my 2 kids that I am leaving at 7.50am. I only had to leave at 8.00am but that provided me more time for their poor choices.

The first few mornings went very smoothly. Then the morning came I was waiting for, I was leaving for the door and my son wasn’t dressed, lunch not made, and now he is demanding that I do everything for him, as he was playing with some toys. I empathised with him, replying “I know, that’s tough, I love you too much to argue, and I am going to the car.” All in a very calm tone. Ten minutes later he came to the car, and he was quite upset. I gave him empathy. After school, I explained ” honey this morning I needed to wait 10 minutes, how would you like to pay me back my time”? TYPICAL reaction “I don’t know “Would you like some ideas now or in 15 minutes? 15 minutes later. I say “I charge $1.00 per minute, or 5 minutes per minute with chores. He chose the chores. Over the next 2 afternoons I had the vacuuming done, the folding done and 1 toilet cleaned.

Sometimes we feel there needs to be an explanation as to why they are experiencing the consequence, and we forget that we have powerful kids that can work this out. In resisting the urge to lecture we are expressing I know you have what it takes and you are powerful. Over the next 3 months my son and daughter were in the car most times at 7.50am. The morning I wasn’t ready and drained their energy levels I made them some treats after school. Oh, what fun, we all had a good laugh.

Where are the areas that you are experiencing tension, non-compliance and continual hassle? What choices can you implement, with a back- up strategy to help them learn from their affordable mistakes? What are your thoughts?