"Jason, when are you starting your report? You seem to have plans all weekend."
"Katie, did you remember to pick up the clothes in your room?"
"John, when are you going to turn off those video games and start your work?"
What's the universal answer to all of these? "Later." After a while, kids begin to cringe the second their parent walks into the room. They are armed with attitude before we open our mouths.
There are so many important topics to discuss with our children these days. It's important that they don't tune us out.
The solution: Cut out the unnecessary talk (better known as nagging).
The rule: Whenever you can, write it down. Model for your kids the art of writing reminder notes, creating lists and planning schedules. This works for any age child. For preschoolers, use line drawings and for teenagers use email. After all, isn't this a skill we want our children to learn to do for themselves?
Be specific in your notes and checklists. Tell them exactly what you want to be done, when you want it done and, if applicable, how you want it to be done. Be firm, but loving. It's a great idea to sign it with Xs and Os, a good luck message or even a kiss. They should not be able to infer anger or resentment from your correspondence.
Also, make sure your children know their schedules. Many clients complain to me that their children cannot plan, when in fact their children just assume if there is something they should be doing, someone will tell them.
Post weekly calendars. Let children know if there will be events or appointments that they must plan around such as doctor visits, out-of-town guests, mandatory dinners or a sibling's soccer game. Like us, our children have a lot on their minds; what you tell them will likely go in one ear and out the other. Providing something they can refer to empowers them to take control over what is left of their time.
Let's compare these two examples: Parent 1: "John, you have a busy weekend coming up. You have to go to Tim's football game, then you have a party Saturday afternoon, and on Sunday grandma and grandpa are coming to dinner. When are you getting all your homework done?" Parent 2: "John, you have a busy weekend coming up. You may want to check the schedule so you can figure out what's the best time to get your homework done."
Which example feels more respectful? Which way would you rather receive information? What is the likelihood that John will be able to process all the information given in the first example? How do you think John will respond to parent #1?
This works for small children as well. In fact, elementary school children feel great about themselves when they complete a checklist or have schedules to refer to. LINDA RICHMAND is a Certified Empowerment and Life Coach who specializes in working with adults with ADD and parents of children with ADD and/or learning disabilities. A member of CHADD, IPEC and ICF, she leads workshops throughout Westchester and meets with clients individually at offices in Chappaqua and Full Circle Family Care in White Plains. She is the mother of three children ages 18, 16 and 10. (914) 238-1041; www.CoachRichmand.com.