I hate the sound of my own voice.
“Why don’t you just…?”
“I’ve asked three times!”
Then I have to stop and think about ‘Duct Tape Parenting’. This book changed my life. I slip…a lot… but when I go back to it, my life is easier. Relationships are better.
The basic premise is that children can figure out the consequences themselves. They don’t need a nag, as they learn through experience instead.
Don’t want to go to bed? Okay then. Don’t.
I hear you gasp.
It’s okay; I was pretty taken aback too. I read how Vicki let her kids decide their own bedtime with something akin to horror. Yet she makes it sound so easy: a few nights of crazy, a couple of conversations about why the children felt so tired and they were self regulating their bedtimes within a week.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
In our house we do still have bedtimes, or more accurately, bedroom times. Miss 9 struggles to wind down and Miss 5 is a jack-in-the-box. Giving them free range of the house every evening would drive me nuts.
We have a rule that they can read, colour, or quiet play until they are ready for bed.
Unbelievably, they stay in their own rooms and enjoy the time to do their own thing. They ask us to come and tuck them in when they are ready. For Miss 5, this is at a very reasonable hour 99% of the time. Miss 9 is a lot more variable, but she operates well in the day time, so we’re happy that she is meeting her sleep needs.
Our evenings are less stressful and we were glad to say goodbye to the hour (or more) of putting children back in bed, answering weird questions, fielding bizarre requests…the usual delaying tactics.
Giving the children responsibility is a very successful strategy. We’ve started a job list, where the children can choose any three jobs that week to earn $5. Now our children are small, but the list is adaptable. This has led to no more nagging at them to do chores.
Of course, I still nag. A lot. I’m a natural at that, it seems. But I’m working on it and Vicki’s book is a great practical guide to having a peaceful home and more responsible, independent children.
Sounds like win-win to me!