Thursday, April 29, 2010

Minute To Win It.

Have you ever seen the parent in the store with the screaming child, who is begging for whatever or wants out of the buggy, and the mom has this panicked look on her face? You know... the one saying, "If you'll calm down, I'll get you an ice cream when we leave"?

Or, uh-oh... are you that mom?

Be of good cheer, my friend. Not only does it get easier, but it can get easier TODAY.

Wanna know what makes me want to puke? When I hear a parent say, "If you do that one more time, I will spank you..." and the little rascal does it three more times, and the parent says again, "I told you! One more time and I will spank you..." and the sweet morsel of love does it again... and the parent says,... well, you get the picture.

One thing I have learned about strong willed children is that they don't think they are so high and mighty if they know who really IS high and mighty. They respect someone who means what they say. To a strong child, empty threats equal a parent who isn't worthy of respect in their eyes... a parent who is weak. And even though the PARENT is the one who is dropping the ball, the CHILD gets labeled hyperactive or obnoxious, put on mediciation, and becomes a walking zombie. (Did I just say that outloud? Oops.)

I believe with all my heart that 90% of the time, the reason kids get into trouble is because they aren't sure of what's expected of them. We can head of ALOT OF DRAMA and frustration if we will do what I'll call the "Minute To Win It" plan. Yep. Like the TV game show, only you're guaranteed to win.


The MTWI plan is simply this. Before you enter ANY situation with your child, communicate in one minute what you expect from them, and what they can expect from you. Example. When I go shopping with Abi, we have a little talk on the way into the store, where I communicate to her what my expectations will be on this shopping excursion. For instance, I might say, "We are going in here to buy milk and bread. You're not going to get any candy today, so please don't ask. We're going in, getting what I need to get, and we're coming back out. If you ask me for candy, I'll have to take a dollar out of your allowance. Do you understand?" Then, I have her reiterate back to me our conditions. Once I see that she understands what I expect from her, we go for it. If she forgets and asks anyway, I will say, "Oops! You just lost a dollar out of your allowance." And then I actually FOLLOW THROUGH with that.

Know what happened? My "I-can-have-a-fit-because-we-are-in-public-and-you-can't-spank-me" child INSTANTLY started behaving. Because she saw that Mama meant what she said.

Another situation that MTWI helps with is interrupting. Let's say you're about to call someone on the phone. Take a minute and tell your little bundle of joy that you're going to be on the phone a while. Tell him that if he needs to talk to you, he can come up to you and put his hand on your leg or arm, and that will be the signal that he needs you. Then you will in turn touch his hand to let him know you are aware of his request. At YOUR convenience, answer him. But also tell him that if he chooses to be rude instead of polite, he will lose his tv privileges or his outside time.

And then... (drum roll, please...) Do what you said you would do! It's VERY important to mean what you say, and then follow through the very first time the behavior is less than what you accept.

I know there are some of you shaking your head, thinking I have lost my mind or have GOT to be the strictest parent in the world right now. But I gotta tell you... that's ok with me. I decided when I WAS the mom with the screaming Banshee that I could not win if the situation escalated to high levels of drama. I will not negotiate with terrorists. I finally decided it wasn't normal to have palpitations just pulling into the parking lot of Wal-Mart with my two year old. So, the day I decided to be the grown-up and establish the rules of engagement, the engagement actually disappeared.

Oh, and the old "1...2....3..." deal? Let me ask you this. Do you have time to count to three to get your kid to come out of the street when a semi-truck is headed for them? They have to learn that our word means NOW, not after we show off our abilities to count to ten.

Our kids are looking for two things in us. One, that we will set boundaries for them. And two, that we love them enough to enforce those boundaries.

You can do it!!!! Yes you can, yes you can!!!!!!


  1. Another awesome one, Jill! Keep going, girl!

  2. Amen, sister! I am glad to see there are other new parents who understand the importance of consistency and follow through. Any time a child doesn't listen could be a precursor to them not listening when that truck is barreling down the road. That is an analogy I share with many young parents who ask for my advise.

  3. A wonderful post!! I'm a "has been" Dad (54) with 2 head strong kids who are now grown. We all are friends and love each other. We all made mistakes but, lots of love mixed with consistant consitancy worked.

    A really balanced, sensible lovely post.