Reading the book Mind in the making a few pages at a time is a new experience for me. I am used to just immersing myself on a good book, writing notes (yes, I write on my books!) and going about merrily pondering on one page after another. But this time I took the slower route-immersing myself to the ideas presented and telling myself “this I definitely have to remember!” It even got me reflecting to the point of telling myself “come to think of it…” This is the case with the first question posed in chapter two: “Would I like a to-do list with my cereal in the morning?”
This topic on perspective taking came at a very good time when I am struggling to get the children going in the morning. It’s not that they cannot get themselves ready, it’s just that they love talking to each other (as if they haven’t seen each other for a long time!) that we end up rushing in going to school. It does help that I have their clothes ready beforehand but still, it takes a toll on me in the morning to just get them going and have them focused and in track of time. I was ready to make a to do list for them when I stopped and reflected on this first question.
Looking at it from my little ones’ perspective, I can just imagine how difficult it is for younger children to be always told what to do. It can be a drag and it can be downright demeaning. Not that we are very strict on them but the fact is: these are repeatedly asked (to the point of being yelled at), relentless at times to even the mundane questions “did you take off your shoes?” and told to them day in and day out. As an adult, I definitely would not be in an environment that is like that. Now the biggest “aha”of the moment, so why then do I/we subject our children to such?
I know it is in their best interests to learn to do things on their own. But lately to make them do things on their own is to constantly barrage them with questions like “have you done this? done that?” . But shouldn’t there be something else that we parents of young children can do to change this bombardment of orders and instead have children be engaged in the process instead of just doers?
So this is my plan. Instead of making their to-do list, I would ask them to do it along with us. Tonight after dinner will be a perfect time to start just to ask them what they can do to help and contribute in the family. Their responsibility list will be broken down to activities they need to do from the time they wake up till the time they sleep including some tasks that they can do together with me or their father. I love the idea of responsibility list from Sutton Grace and I also plan on making the weekly menu with them so they are engaged in choosing what breakfast and lunch they will have for the entire week (that is of course given some choices). This is to ensure that they keep track of themselves and their actions without much prodding from me. I know it is still a matter of reminding them and hopefully it just gets to that level- of reminding and not nagging.
It was indeed an eye-opener that even though we place engagement with the children as a value in our family there are still some areas in our interactions with the children that we become so much like drillmasters and the children as mere followers. Hopefully with this change in perspective, we get to reflect deeper on how we can give our children the reign on how to keep themselves on track and instill the value of responsibility by self-monitoring and not just because we said so.