We can only drive our kids so far. At some point, they have to take the wheel. Those who have never been allowed to make meaningful decisions until later in life are likely to flounder. ~Dr. William Stixrud, The Self-Driven Child
Our job is not to nag or punish our preteens and teens into cooperation.
Your “reminders” have become nagging when you:
- act as the notification system to keep your child on track
- care more about the tasks than your child does
- feel annoyed all day
- feel disrespected
- make the “asks” fun yet your kids still won’t follow through
Rather, the key to productive youth is motivation. When you are exhausted from pushing the rock up the hill (the activities, education, showers, chores, clean clothes, homework) on behalf of your child through shaming, blaming, and incessant reminding, pivot.
Go on a “caring fast.”
Choose to not care for a day.
- Wake up, make your favorite hot beverage, open your phone, tune into a podcast, put your feet up.
- Next, maybe take the dog for a walk, read a chapter of a book, throw in a load of laundry, eat a snack.
- At some point, some child is going to wonder: “What are we supposed to do today Mom/Dad?” With a nonchalant manner, simply say, “I don’t know. Up to you. I’m busy with X.”
- Go back to X.
To shift responsibility to a child, be honest without assigning motives.
“I’m here to help you with school work or lunch (or whatever) when you are ready. Until then, I’ve got other stuff to do.”
The key to this practice is not using it as manipulation. You are training yourself to care less, too. This is the beginning of shifting the responsibility to your child away from yourself. It’s hard! Parents like control. That preteen or teen doesn’t want the responsibility, so they keep putting it back on you. Drop the rope. No more tug of war.
Get busy, give space, and trust.
It’s a detox for you too.
Part Two next week!
This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!