I just finished reading "The Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother" by Amy Chua. There is a lot of controversy over how psychotic this Chinese mother is about rearing her two daughters. For example, 6 hours of drilling violin for a 7 year old girl. That's a bit extreme for us Westerners.
However, this book made me realize I'm more comfortable subscribing to the Candy Ass Mothering Method. This is when I nicely request (beg) for my daughters to study for a test and when there is any type of resistance, I fold like a deck of cards.
I fear that I will traumatize them if I push too hard. So I don't. Or rather, didn't.
There was a day when I begged for mercy when I blew my top, apologizing profusely for saying things like, You guys are ungrateful jerks, I brought you into this world and I can take you out, and one of my lowest points, What, you think you're better than everyone else?
In other words, I was a fan of the verbal smackdown with my daughters.
I hired a child psychologist. I confessed to being a passive-aggressive asshole and begged for a solution. She explained that I needed an incentive chart. I already had stickers up the ass trying to reward them for good behavior, so I was pissed that I was paying $150 for 50 minutes to learn nothing.
But wait. There was still 35 minutes left.
She said, "That's great. You know how to reward your kids. That's the part parents love. What about discipline? How do you handle that?"
How do I what-what?
I explained that I usually barked out orders and whined about how I had no respect. Did that count? No. In fact, according to psychological theories, I was fucking them up worse by caving and blaming them for my lack of boundaries, structure and holding firm on what I need.
So I'm basically a candy-ass, then I whine and blame my kids for not getting my way. Is that right?
So I crafted together a little chart on the back of a paper bag I fished out of the recycling container. I ripped up some sheets of paper and scratched out rewards on them. Movie Madness! Tooth Fairy Bonus! Shit like that to Bait and Switch behavior.
And it worked. I tried to hide around corners when I did a victory dance.
They wanted structure. They wanted to be worth the effort. They wanted me to push them to a higher to potential. They were asking me to help set goals for crissake. Their friends came over and asked if they could have one. So I made a few more out of grocery bags.
And just like that, my kids respected me. Grades in school started kicking ass. They were eating breakfast, sans chips, by 8:10. No more Defcon 5 military watch as they brushed teeth, no more arguing as I brushed their hair, and no more sprinting for the bus with papers flying out of backpacks.
Dare I say it - morning are peaceful. Homework is teamwork and weirdly becoming something they fight to "get mom first" for their 45 minutes alone in the "Homework Hole" (a.k.a the dining room). No more tantrums at bedtime.
I think I found a nice middle ground between Psychotic Tiger Mother and Candy-Ass Sissy Mother.
This little chart became a "thing." I created it into something that wasn't such an eye-sore. A ripped Cub bag was bit trashy, so I hooked up with a printer and made two. Then my neighbor wanted one. Then my friend who was battling with her ADHD son wanted one. Then the hockey mom who was sick of finding lost uniforms wanted one. A couple of Canadian moms hear about it and wanted homework to be scream-free. A woman in Texas was ripping her hair out because her 3-year old wouldn't sleep in her own bed.
And it worked for all of them. Kids are keeping track of their own uniforms (even washing them!), kids with ADHD are staying focused and less frustrated, homework is teamwork for the Candians, Texas is sleeping better...
I had a few printed up. There aren't a lot left, but if you're looking for a new way to connect with your kids, this will help. Yes, you can buy peace and it will arrive in your mailbox within 3-5 days.
I have been asked if there is a chart for husbands, but that has not been developed yet. : )