Saturday, May 4, 2013

1-2-3's of Parenting; A Lesson in Bravery

Dear Diary,
I recently read a post, written by a wonderful friend, on the topic of Bravery.  Her topic got me thinking about how brave acts aren't just those extreme antics in which I rarely participate (does my Extreme Vacation count?), but they can also be found in daily occurrences.

Scheduling the dreaded mammogram,  talking with your child's teacher about problems at school, sticking up for a friend or coworker, sending out job applications, riding in the car with a 15-year-old at the wheel, and disciplining your children, are just a few of these daily acts of bravery. 

Over the years I have been asked about (and/or complimented on) my childrens' behavior.  Educators, family and friends, church acquaintances, and even strangers at restaurants would say, "My, your girls are well behaved.  My kids would be all over the place."

I don't like to preach, but today I am stepping out in bravery to do so.  (Or perhaps this could be viewed as a little motherly advice, which so often unwittingly sounds like preaching, doesn't it?) 

My kids are older now, with my youngest at age 10.  These things were more relevant in my household when they were little: toddler through early primary grades, the "formative years." 

So if you are in a place where you could use my parenting advice, be brave and continue reading. Otherwise, skip to the Wrap Up!

There are two things that were key to my well-behaved children.

First, when a child was exhibiting inappropriate behavior, I expected them to respond to my command the first time I asked. 

"Daughter, stop jumping on the couch." 

If the child continued, I might ask a second time (with a middle name thrown in for emphasis), but no more. 

I set high expectations for my girls:  good grades, respect for others, obedience.  It takes a special kid to be motivated to behave above and beyond any low expectations that was set for him/her.  That's why my expectations are high.

I have a little confession.  The use of what I call the "1-2-3 Method" drives me a teensy bit crazy.  You know what I mean by the 1-2-3 Method -- where an adult gives a child time to decide whether or not to obey by counting to three (or five or ten).

If a parent resorts to cajoling a disobedient child, and then ends up using the 1-2-3 Method, who is really in control? I am no Lehman or Freud, but it doesn't take an appearance on Dr. Oz to figure out the answer.

I have two premises to this advice.  I assume the child can 1) hear me and 2) understand the language I am speaking. 

Repeating oneself, coaxing, and giving them time, is well, giving the child control.  I have even worked with hard of hearing children and even they can understand a command (in their language) the first time! 

It takes bravery to follow through on the consequences when a child doesn't listen the first time.  I will leave that aspect up to you. But as was the case in our home, it has payoff.  Big time.  To the point where even strangers notice.

There may be parents who say, well that may have worked for you but that won't work for us. To them I say, feel free to share what is working for you!  I'm sure there are parents out there who find the 1-2-3 Method "works" for them. I am not writing to change your ways.  Just stating what worked for me.

The second key is an easier one.
Transitions can be hard for kids.  To go from one activity to the next with no warning might make a child rebel (tantrum, whine, argue).  Many parents transition their kids, and I am all about that.  Give a child a warning that in  ___  minutes we will (be going to the store, finishing with TV, going to bed) or whatever.  Then stick to it and don't let them sucker you into "just a few more minutes," at least not regularly!

Wrap Up
It takes bravery to be a good parent.

But brave acts of any kind can result in appreciating life on a whole new level.

What are your everyday acts of bravery?

Courageously yours,


  1. Hmmm...I use the 1-2-3 method. (But only to 3.) And though it took a while, it does work most of the time. ;) I'm guilty of letting her beg me for a few minutes more,, who's the parent? Yeah...I needed that reminder. Thanks for being brave and sharing...this parenting thing does take bravery. (I figure you are three times braver than I am so you can pass on all of your advice to me.) :) Have a great week, friend.

    1. Yes but if boys are in your future, you'll have to call on someone else! Enjoy your week and thanks for helping me to be brave!