How often do we, as mothers, tell our kids to "be good" ? If your kids misbehaves right after you tell them to be good or be nice, then you are not alone. I have been there plenty of times. I have been thinking about this a lot and talking to my MOPS moms about it, then I came to the sudden realization that I have been doing this all wrong. I want my kids to "be good," but what does that even mean? I have been telling my daughter to "be good" or "be nice" since she was a year old, but how could I have expected her to be either one of those things if she does not know what those words mean. The words "good" and "nice" are as vague as they come.Once I realized that, I began to tell DD exactly how I expect her to behave before we reach our destination. For example, as we headed out to a birthday party this past weekend, we had a long discussion about how I expected her to behave and what the consequences were. I told her that she was not allow to whine, complaint, or ask for toys while we are at the party. I also told her that I expected he to sit with her friends, play with them, not say anything mean, be polite and participate in any activity that the party hostess had set up for the kids. If she did not behave accordingly, then we would need to leave the party. I have noticed that there are definitly less melt downs when DD knows what is expected of her.
Now, that is not to say that there are no melt downs. My daughter is far from the prefect child, she has her moments, but I have also realized that good things could come from those moments. Instead of getting upset and being frustrated by those moment, I try my best to take those moments as "teachable" moments and use them to my benefit.
Yesterday I had a clear, right in my face, "teachable" moment. It did not rise out of a temper tantrum, but it was a moment nonetheless. On our way home from Cost Co, DD saw a homeless man on the side of the street. She asked what the man was doing (not realizing he's homeless), I told her that he needed help with food and money. She reached down and grabbed her uneaten donuts and handed to the homeless man through the car window. While we were driving away, she asked if she could give the homeless man some money and then she suggested giving half of the money in her piggy bank to the homeless man. After we got home, DD went to her room, took out her piggy bank and did just that. She put her money into a zip lock bag and I grabbed some fresh fruit I just picked up from the store for the homeless man. Then, we went back to Cost Co to give the homeless man food and money.
I must admit that I had an agenda. I knew this was a great "teachable" moment. On our way back, DD and I had a long discussion about what it means to give and to be homeless. During our drive there, I was able to get 3 points across. First of all, I wanted to teach her the importance of gratitude. I told her that we were very lucky that we were in the position to give. We needed to be grateful that her daddy has a job and makes enough money for us to eat well and live in a nice house. We are so fortunate to be able to give to someone who needs help. Second, I used the opportunity to talk about what it means to be homeless. Actually, DD was the one who bought it up. She wanted to know if there are so many house how could it be at someone does not have a home. I explained that although there are a lot of houses, not everyone gets to live in one. It takes a lot to maintain a home. Mommies and daddies have to work every hard to make sure that their kids live in houses. Lastly, I wanted DD to learn about humanities. I told her that it is very important that she does not look down at people who are less fortunate than us. I told her that she needed to call the homeless man "Mr." when she speaks to him and be as polite with him as she does with everyone else. I explained that sometimes people work every hard but bad things happen so they experience hard times. Just because someone is homeless, it does not mean that he is lazy or bad. We don't know how or why someone becomes homeless, so all we can do is help however we can.
I am learning how to be a parent and it is not a easy job. Sometimes I wonder if I am messing up my kids, but yesterday I was so proud of my 5 year old daughter for giving up the donuts she was saving for a treat and for giving away half of her money. I am also extra thankful for a great "teachable" moment that I was able to share with my daughter.