First, some thoughts on behavior and rules, the way we do it.Wow, there are some days when the kids just won't listen. Those are the days that I get the most frustrated. We have some basic rules in this house, the top of the list? Do what you are told, right away, and without arguing! I demand, yes I said demand, immediate obedience. “No I don't want to tell you why I want you to pick up your room, just do it!” I know that it might not conform to societies standard, but I have learned a lot in my 20+ years in daycare and my years of being a mom.
Kids want rules and structure. Does that mean a tight schedule where everything is planned out? No, that means basic rules and consequences, with follow through! From day 1, there are rules. There are punishments. It is my job to make sure BOTH happen.
Child psychology will tell you that from birth, a child wants to feel safe. If you don't keep them safe from harming themselves, they won't trust you to keep them safe from the rest of the world. That's what rules mean to a child. Yes, most of this is subconsciously. So, this translates to rules and punishments, done consistently.
Immediate obedience, if a child is running into the street and a car is coming, you want them out of it immediately. Do want to take the time to discuss why? When a child learns immediate obedience, you can keep them safe first. If you want to teach them the why's, teach them to ask, AFTER they have shown the obedience part!
While these basic rules are usually enough to keep things good around here, sometimes it is not enough. Then comes the spoon. Yes, I hit/ spank my kids with a spoon. Would my hand work? Yes. Wouldn't my hand be softer? Yes. Wouldn't my hand be less threatening? NO!! My kids know when they have pushed the limits too far and that they are getting a spanking, they can see the spoon in my hand. If I used my hand all the time, what would they think when I was coming in for a hug or to wipe something off their clothing? They might be scared that I was going to hit them. I don't want them to fear me, just fear the spoon. They know what it takes to get a spanking from it! It also has another effect, I only have to ask, “Do I need to get the spoon out?” and the behavior quickly corrects! So, how often do I use the spoon? Probable less than 1 time per month. I might take it into my hand, tap the counter with it for attention, and then lay it back down again, about 1 time a week.
Why do I not have to use my spoon more often? Because they know that my rules are there to keep them safe and to teach them how to be Godlike men. I use all kinds of punishments; nose in the corner, no TV, no bike, no toys, early bedtime, more schoolwork, and of course bible verses. I like using the bible verses for most “crimes”. They have to look up and find 5-10 verses on a subject like lying or fools. Then they have to write them down, the whole verse and where it's found. If that isn't enough to correct the behavior, each might get written 10 times. By then, it should be memorized. If not, write it 10 more times!
My kids also know that punishments are far worse if crimes are witnessed by others or done outside the home. They know that as a homeschool family and former travel family, that we can be judged more by others. CPS and family court judges might be more likely to THINK we are not good parents because we have less roots than other families. Some officials also like to think that homeschoolers are just too lazy to get their kids to school everyday, that's why they claim to homeschool, that there is no “real” schoolwork going on. My kids do school work and they do learn.
Now, some ideas and thoughts about family time.
These are just my opinions and thoughts, don't take offense or feel judgment when it is not intended. (Disclaimer now posted!)While my boys are perfect, they are good kids. Some say they are one of the best behaved kids around. They still push the limits, and get into trouble. We strive to teach them based on their mistakes and improve their behavior. I think homeschooling has allowed us to spend more time together that we have been able to catch the behavior problems early on and to start correction faster. I wish more families made the choice to spend as much time together as possible. I know some families feel the need for 2 incomes or are single parents, but what about the times your not at work? Do the kids really need more than 1 extra activity per week that cuts into that family time? Do they need a TV in their room to watch their shows while your in the other watching yours? We have only 1 TV in the whole house. Everything gets DVR'd so we can watch appropriate shows with our kids, and save the rest for after they go to bed. Yes, we might not get to watch “our” shows until 3 weeks later, but we also know what our kids are watching all the time. Do you sit down together at every possible meal together? We do! My kids always sit at the table for meals, we do have special occasions when we eat in the living room while watching TV. Yes we eat with the TV on sometimes, we hung it up on the wall with a swivel mount for that purpose. But we are still doing it together.
What about the household chores/ tasks, how are they going to get done if we are spending all that time with our kids? Well, we do tasks together! The kids help with the laundry, they bring down a load to go in the washer, I am pulling the load out of the dryer. They carry it up to our room for folding and start folding. I finish switching the loads and go join them in folding. When they were younger and couldn't fold much, they helped sort and matched up socks for me to fold.
What about the weekends? Do you have so many activities planned that you are just a taxi service or is the whole family involved? Do you plan anything special for your family or does everyone just do their own thing? Yes the kids are going to want to play with their friends and ride their bikes, especially if they are so busy during the week with school, activities and homework. But do you limit their time for the sake of family time? Make a rule of 1 sleepover a month, whether at your house or at a friends. Then make plans for 1 family activity per weekend, whether on Saturday or Sunday after church. Maybe it family movie night with homemade pizza (made together of course), or frozen pizza and ice cream sundaes. An afternoon water balloon fight on a hot day followed by everyone cleaning up together might be fun. A snowball fight after a snowfall or a Nerf gun fight is good inside or outside depending on weather. Make paper airplanes and fly them around the room, younger kids can help decorate them.
Get some glow in the dark paint, a small funnel and a cheap clear ball. Put some pain inside the ball and swirl it around. Now charge it up under a lamp and after dark, go play kickball, catch or with older kids, dodge ball! The next weekend since you have the paint, tape some shapes on their bedroom walls and paint some designs. You'll all have fun that night looking at it after dark when your tucking them in for the night.
What about bedtime? Do you “tuck” them in every night? Do all the parents in the house participate? Growing up, my father didn't, we gave him a kiss while he sat in his chair watching HIS shows or reading the paper. My mom would tuck us in but by the time I was around 5th grade or so, there wasn't much of that anymore. My boys are 5th and 6th grade age now and we still BOTH tuck them in. They want it and can get emotional if daddy fell asleep on the couch and might not make it to tuck in time! (Poor Marty gets up around 3:30am for start getting ready for work and tends to be very tired by 9:30pm.) When on vacation and all the kids were in 1 room, we tucked them all in.
I'm no expert and I am not judging anyone, I am just giving you an insight into our lives and asking you questions to make you think. I try to learn new things all the time and I am an information gatherer. I “feed” off of information and believe that the more I know the better decisions I make. I love new ideas and like to share my ideas. I don't want you to feel like you have to do the same but I hope it inspires you. Look at your life and decide if something might work for your family.