Just some more thoughts about kids and charts and notes...
The main reason I love charts and lists for kids is that they help me clarify exactly what I expect. Because I'm not always so good at it verbally.
The other night Allie-15 wanted to spend the night at a friend's house. The mom was leaving on a trip early the next morning, so I suggested that the girls spend the night over here so the mom could get packed and get some rest. The girls were going to go hang out at another friend's house first, then the dad would bring them home.
We were at a football game, talking over cheering crowds, I was watching out for a few extra friends of my younger girls, but even through the noise, when the conversation ended, I thought we had an understanding.
A couple of hours later we called to check on them. Allie was getting ready for bed at the first friend's house - the one whose mom was trying to get out of town.
I said, "But you were supposed to spend the night here!"
Allie's comment was, "You never said I couldn't, and her mom said she didn't mind, so we just came over here."
Looking back on the conversation, neither the other mom nor I made ourselves clear. The other mom truly did not need a couple of girls spending the night there, so she could have easily said "NO."
And I, trying to teach my child consideration for others, should have said, "NO, you may not spend the night there. You MUST spend the night here."
All that to say, kids do not naturally catch "implication," "hints," "suggestions," "maybe," "I'll think about it," or "We'll see." These tend to postpone the conflict of the moment, but almost invariably make the conflict greater when we realize later our kids used our lack of backbone to push their own agenda!!
This does not matter whether you are dealing with a two-year-old or a thirteen-year-old! They are masters of manipulation!
If I want them to do chores, I can't say, "Man, this kitchen is a mess," (even when accompanied by heavy sighing and loud banging of pots and pans) and expect them to figure out I am wanting help. No. I need to say clearly, "Please load the dishwasher."
Okay, so back to notes and charts.
When I write things down,
- it forces me to clarify exactly what I expect from my kids
- it represents my authority, whether I am physically present or not - a big bonus when you have several kids!
- it holds my kids accountable and minimizes the "I forgot" excuse
- it keeps me from making decisions "in the moment," when I am weak, distracted, tired, surrounded by my kids' friends, or all of the above
- it helps my kids succeed. How can they do a pleasing job if they don't know what "finished" looks like?
He knew we are forgetful and would need to refer to them again and again. He knew we would try to say stuff like, "You never told me that!" or "I didn't know what you meant!"
Let's give our kids a really big gift. Let's let our "yes" be "yes" and our "no" be "no." And when possible, let's write it down. We'll all be much happier for it!!
******************There were a few people who requested the chore spec sheet who did not leave their email. Please email me if you would still like me to send it to you!