I’m that mom that gets really upset when a note is sent home from the teacher saying that my daughter was talking in class.
I don’t get mad at my daughter. I get mad at the rules.
I get the rules. I do.
But sometimes too many rules gets in the way.
All-in-all, our daughters are amazing and follow rules nearly all the time. Sometimes the rules have to be repeated a few times but this is childhood, this is growing up, this is figuring out who we are as human beings.
This is not to say that they don’t make mistakes because they do. And when rules — ours or society’s — have been broken we have long, detailed conversations about those mistakes. This is how we are parenting from the heart. If the teacher gets upset about something in class that I don’t think is a tragic mistake in life so we’ll discuss it but I don’t sweat it. If the mistakes breaks one of our family values, you can bet that things are going to be pretty rigid around here and there will be a loss of some sort of fun.
Sometimes parents — and teachers — get lost in the idea of rules and following directions and forget that this is about living life, exploring and helping to simply raise good human beings.
The secret to enforcing effective and loving rules is pretty easy: Have very few rules.
Our children — as I’m sure most do — have their own rhythms and grooves that are a life of their own. I cannot change those idiosyncrasies anymore than they can change my own. Some days they listen well. Some days they do not. Some days are easy. Some days are not.
It’s our job to be consistent, as hard as that may be some days.
Someone asked me to post our rules. Our rules have changed over the years from none to a few to a lot to now the Fink Five, which I’ll explain in more detail below.
1. Be Kind.
2. Be Flexible.
3. Be Helpful.
4. Be a Good Sport.
5. Be a Risk Taker.
Be kind pretty much encompasses everything from using kind words, to keeping your hands and your feet to yourself to offering up some empathy when you hurt someone.
Be flexible comes up more frequently than you might imagine such as when the only pair of socks she wants to wear are in the wash but she has seven other pair clean … she chooses the next best pair.
Be helpful at all times. Period. Cooperate. Assist the family. Do your part. Do extra when you can.
Be a good sport is important but it’s also hard for children to learn so they need to be reminded that sometimes they won’t win, sometimes they will be chosen last and sometimes life just isn’t fair.
Be a risk taker is last but not least. It means to try your best, give everything a go and never back down from trying something new even if you’re afraid or worried about making a mistake. This includes taking initiative to learn new things, being curious about the unknown and mysteries of the world as well as helping out friends and family in new ways. This is about putting your whole self into something that might be uncertain and still be OK with it.
We post these rules on our fridge. But, I also have two other lists that I can point to. The first is a list of the character education attributes that they learn through school as well as through home. When I see them demonstrating one of those skills, I refer to that list.
And, we also use the THINK list. You may have seen this on Pinterest in a few places. It’s pretty much genius for adults and children alike!
THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK
T – Is it true?
H – Is it helpful?
I – Is it inspiring?
N – Is it necessary?
K – Is it kind?
I refer to this list quite often and my daughter who struggles with speaking too quickly and saying mean things without thinking has really taken this to heart.
And we have another rule that’s not written down.
We’re not allowed to say I CAN’T.
How about you? What’s your feelings about rules — the ones you were raised with, the ones you enforce now, the ones at your child’s school? Do the rules we place on our children restrict them or help them grow? How do you feel about rules? Please share in the comments!
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