Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Great Expectations...

I think 1 of the mistakes we can make sometimes as parents is not making sure our children know what it is we expect out of them. I am not saying they are never going to challenge the set expectations or boundaries to make sure they really do exist - they definitely will. And when they do, you are going to have to stay consistent in following through with consequences. But the 1st step is to establish specific, clearly understood boundaries.

Recently I have heard a lot of moms I know express how much work it is to take their kids out anywhere (i.e., the park, store, restaurant, etc). It is potentially embarassing & they never know what their kids are going to do. For this reason I am going to focus this post on establishing the expected behaviors for when your kids are out in public (although to have set & understood guidelines when at home is just as important).

Going out in public with the kiddos does not have to be a dreaded experience. Other than the physical part of actually loading & unloading everyone and the diaper bags, it should not be that much work for you. If children know the expectations (what is acceptable & what is unacceptable) for the different places you go, everyone can be on the same page, and as a result, things will usually go much smoother. As parents, sometimes we "wake up" and realize that we have been letting our children get away with behaviors in public that we should not tolerate, such as lil' tantrums here & there, not showing their best manners at restaurants, or maybe talking back, but that is okay, because parenting is all about learning, growing, revising, etc. Its not too late to reestablish rules with your kids, but it is going to take a lot of work & consistency on your behalf.

First of all, before you decide to go anywhere with your kids, you need to verbally remind them of your expectations while out in public. For example, "Johnny, we are going to go to the store. 1st when we get in the car we need to make sure we stayed buckled at all times & use our nice inside the car voices. When we get out of the car to go into the store, we need to make sure we are holding Mommy's hand at all times. We do not go with strangers. Johnny, while we are in store, we keep our hands to ourselves because the things there do not belong to us & we can just enjoy looking..." You get the basic idea. It is important that while you are conveying expectations you get down on their level, make sure you have eye contact, & have them respond to you & ask questions. This ensures they are listening & lets you know that they are aware of the rules so if they do choose to disobey, you don't have to stop & question, "Well, maybe they didn't know what I meant?".

I do believe that certain kids tend to be more "in their own lil' world" & honestly might forget & need 1 warning before the real disciplining needs to take place. You are the parent & you can read your child in order to determine whether or not he/she is actually outright challenging the set boundary or has seriously just forgot for a moment.

I know its like my motto & I say it so often, but consistency really is the key. You have to be "on it" & give your kiddos consequences when they break a rule you have already set in place. When you are 1st teaching your kids or reconditioning them, you might have to drag your cart all the way over to that bathroom 2 or 3 times to go & correct inappropriate behavior, but it is worth it & do not lose heart because your kids are going to see that you mean business every time.

You don't have to let yourself feel bad or feel like "the mean, not-so-fun parent". Rest in the fact, you are actually doing it to help your child grow & develop as well as be safe! Having set rules/expectations is especially vital when you are out & about with more than 1 child. You simply cannot have a kid taking off by themselves, touching merchandise, or acting up distracting and/or manipulating. Having established boundaries before ever even leaving your house, your kids will already know the rules and therefore they know exactly what they can & can't do and what it is you, the parent, expect from them.

Setting boundaries and establishing rules with your kids (at home & in public) has an enormous impact on kids self-esteem, how they develop morals, and even how well they do academically, socially and in relationships. And knowing what is expected of them helps them feel connected, capable, confident, and more secure. In the short run, it can definitely feel like "an uphill climb", but in the long run, your consistency and follow through will pay off, big time! Hang in there.

-M&M Momma

Aussie posing on the stage

Dancing & singing in front of the mirror

Austin just being Austin! Lol

Tea anyone?


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