Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wrestling Privileges and other keys to sanity

If I could make a button, which would repeat a key phrase to prevent me from uttering it ONE.MORE.TIME
the button would either say
"Please use your walking feet"
"Please tell Mommy if you need to go potty."

I really can't decide which one I say more often, but each are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1295766252 times a day.

Shortly followed by:
Please don't throw/bounce/kick that in the house.
Please use your big boy/girl voice.
Please wash your hands.
Please go get a Kleenex
Please do not put that in your mouth.
Please give the baby some room to breathe.

I would like to eliminate some of this repetition.  I know some of you agree because we've given each other that knowing look on more than one occasion.  And not just because I'm tired of hearing my own voice.  At least partly because I bet THEY are tired of hearing my own voice, too.  Especially if that voice is in an octave usually reserved for phrases that I've already repeated 10395863 times that day. 

At the top of the list of successes right now:
I have (nearly) eliminated "Please don't wrestle" from my every-day-broken-record-vocabulary.
How, you might ask? (and you definitely will ask if you have little boys)
I feel like you are going to want to write this down.  I did when someone suggested it to me. 

totally backwards, I know.  But let me tell you, this is genius. 
(sure wish I could remember who was behind this genius tip- it was either Dr. PW  or my mom.  both brilliant in child rearing) 
Anyway, that brilliant someone suggested that I give the boys "wrestling privileges".  Each family would have to have their own parameters, but ours looks a little something like this:
You can wrestle absolutely ANYTIME you want. As long as:
-Mommy or Daddy have not asked you to do something else.
-You are in your room with the door closed.
-Your room is completely cleaned up (you know, to create good space for wrestling).
-You do not complain about injuries (you are allowed to tell an adult if there is blood).
-You only wrestle your brother and only when he is consenting.

If any of the above rules are not followed for wrestling privileges, the privileges will be revoked.  This is absolutely NOT a privilege I ever revoke as a consequence for other offenses.

Another success for us has setting a parameter for "technology time" (TV, Ipods) on the weekends so that the kids don't even ask for it during the week.
Saying YES has led to a lot fewer NOs at our house.  A lot less wrestling in church, restaurants and other people's houses (I know you are shocked that this was a problem for us).  A lot less quick decisions from Mom and Dad about whether now is a good time to play electronics.

In the interest of full disclosure, wrestling privileges also led to a black eye and a tooth (that was loose) coming out.  Neither of which did I know about until after the fact (refer to above rules).  In fact, after the black-eye incident, both boys came casually walking in to the kitchen like nothing was going on and asked when dinner would be ready.  KJ's eye was already visibly hurt so I asked what happened.  KJ's response- "I'm not complaining about it, because it happened while we were wrestling."
And I'm totally cool with that.

I'm also cool with knowing that while I may have found a solution in this one area, for every one- 12 more will arise.  And I will be on to finding a new solution.

Because here is the point:
I'm starting to believe that raising children should not be a war- us against them. It shouldn't even be a bunch of battles. Instead it is like players and a coach. I'm not on the opposite team, I'm trying to mold MY team. I've got to figure out what strategies work, not to beat them, but to help them WIN. And maybe sometimes to keep from blowing my whistle one.more.time so that I can actually have some ungritted teeth LEFT at the end of this game.

I'm all for consistency.  Really, I have a whole soap-box about that.  But sometimes my consistency of the lessons gets confused with my consistency of the methods.  And when the method isn't working, I've gotta learn to PULL THAT PLUG ASAP and regroup on the strategy.  Most of the things I repeat 23098575625 times a day can be linked back to a lesson I'm trying to be consistent about.

  The key is to figure out what the original lesson was.  With washing their hands/not putting them in their mouths it is really about taking care of their health.  With not throwing/kicking/bouncing in the house it may be about taking care of the blessings we have in our toys and our home.  With wrestling, the real lesson is teaching the boys that there is a time and place for having fun together.  The method (which was not working) was constantly reminding them of all the places that were NOT appropriate to wrestle.  So instead of abandoning the LESSON,  I abandoned the METHOD.  And it worked (for now).

So now I'm on a quest. 
Which broken-record-phrase can I conquer, um I mean redirect, next?
Watch out, team,. this coach has a new strategy.


and just in case any of you other "coaches" are tempted to believe that I am exaggerating our wrestling problems...in none of the pictures in this post, dating back as much as FOUR YEARS AGO, are the boys "hugging".

1 comment:

The Brackeens said...

We will definitely need wrestling priviledges, I think. My little one is the beast, so I expect him to attempt this any.day.now. The footnote made me laugh. The one at LegoLand really DOES look like a hug in freeze frame. ;)