Thursday, March 7, 2013

Letting Them Fail Is Really Hard

Yesterday as it was nearing 9:00 am and the bedrooms were not yet clean, I started sweating on the inside.  Should I remind them?  Should I just let the time pass and take their money for the day?  Should I drop subtle hints and see if they pick up on them?

Because I don't want to take their money.  I want them to succeed.  I want to remind them to clean their rooms so they can take the three minutes necessary to make their beds and pick up the few random toys left out on the floor.

But is that enabling them?  Is my reminding them a help or a hindrance?  If I remind them to clean their rooms, is that defeating the entire process of them learning to take ownership for maintaining their living space?  Ugh!  This thing is not as clear cut as I thought it'd be.  Because I am too nice and want to give them chances.

I may have made hints that they might want to clean their rooms.  To David and Joy anyway.  When I made hints to Joy, Lizzy informed me that she'd already taken care of Joy's mess.  Again???  I looked at Lizzy and told her, "You know.  If your stuff is all cleaned up and your bed made, I won't take your money even if Joy's stuff is a mess.  I know whose mess is whose."

"Oh.  I just really want all my money so I can buy something at the end of the month."

I took the kids grocery shopping with me this week because our co-op is on spring break.  I let them bring the $5 that they got from GiGi for Valentine's Day.  David and Joy were quick to make a selection, but Lizzy only had eyes for a toy that cost $20.  I pointed out that if she kept her room clean, she would have $15 to add to her $5 come April 1, so she could go buy that $20 toy.

So back to enabling.  Yesterday I dropped hints.  I gave in to enabling.  But from now on I am not going to remind them.  They all know the rules--room clean by 9:00 am when I will inspect it.  If it's not clean, you lose that day's money.  I need to learn to play hard ball if I want this experiment to be successful.

Over a year ago I read this book about learning to respect your husband.  In it the author said that the wife needed to stop reminding her husband of things.  As in, when you notice that your Hubby is on his way to being late for work because he's dawdling, keep your mouth shut.  He is a grown man and capable of keeping time.  Or when he is driving your family somewhere and you notice he's about to miss a turn, keep your mouth shut.  He is a grown man; he will figure it out for himself.  It took a whole lot of tongue biting for me to stop nagging reminding Hubby that he needed to leave for work, how to drive, etc.  But I succeeded.  And Hubby learned to watch the clock all by himself without my help interference.

Much like that little experiment, I need to take the same stance with my children.  No more reminding them.  They are fully capable kids who can all tell time (even Joy).  Even if it means losing their money a few times, eventually they will learn to take responsibility for their rooms.  And isn't that the ultimate goal?  Not for my kids to earn money, but to learn to take care of their things without my help?

Today it's just their rooms.  But eventually it will be an entire home.  Cars.  Their own bank accounts and bills.  Families.  Far better for them to learn the lessons of personal responsibility now when it is safe and the consequences are minimal rather than when the stakes are high.

So no more reminders.  They will succeed or fail all on their own.

No comments:

Post a Comment