What in the world is a Kid Box? It’s the gift that every parent already has but occasionally needs to be reminded of. The Kid Box is the box children should live within and parents shouldn’t live without. This is the core best advice any parent can get. Follow this simple concept and life will be much easier. I know what some people view as simple, others may deem impossible. However, this is not a Jedi mind trick. It is the golden key, the basic facts, the master code and the most important tool in your parenting tool belt.
The Kid Box consists of four ever so important sides:
Discipline, Structure, Manners and Boundaries
Let’s start with the “D” word. Yes, discipline is a good word. Repeat after me… discipline is good for children. Children should have consequences when they display less than desirable behavior. Please don’t confuse discipline with something mean. Children often act out in an effort to seek attention. You’ve certainly heard the saying “negative attention is better than none.” Well, children are no different. Children need to know that there are other ways to gain attention and acting out is the least desirable.
For example, you and your children are approaching the grocery store and you give the usual “if you don’t behave” lecture just moments before securing rock star parking. It doesn’t take long before they ramp up and the chaos ensues. You’re rounding the aisles like a pro and they begin to whine, cry and demand items you have never purchased in your life. Public Place Rule #1: Remember, you are not alone and everyone is not starring at you. Ok, well maybe they are but, that’s ok. Guaranteed, at one time or another they have all been there. I believe most people would genuinely like to help, but really don’t want to interfere.
You’re a mom (or a dad), you’ve got this… right? Take a deep breath and look around with your head held high. Feel free to laugh instead of scream. Regain that inner strength that’s buried in the bottom of your shopping cart and just say NO! You clearly said if they misbehave you WILL leave and they WILL have a consequence when you get home. The time has come! You gather your children, abandon your cart, swiftly exit the store, batten down the seat belts and propel into the driveway. With a renewed sense of who’s the boss, you bestow the discipline menu. Your youngest sits in timeout, your daughter makes all the beds and your son rakes your yard and the neighbor’s yard. A gentle reminder of, “We will speak when you’re done and discuss why we left the store” is a great place to start.
Discipline is an opportunity to redirect bad behavior, have a discussion and allow children to think about why it happened in the first place. In my opinion, discipline can be defined as something children would rather not do, but causes no physical or emotional harm.
The best and worst part is you will have to get that shopping done on another day, but you held to your word. You did what you said you would do and more than anything, you were consistent. The single best word of advice for any parent is CONSISTENCY. Be consistent in your words, your actions and your discipline.
Create a structure to support your parenting style and desired goals. What’s important to you? Is it a clean house, learning a different language, charity work or caring for animals? Perhaps it’s TV time, nap time or play time. Whatever it is, a consistent structure can be created to support it. Creating a structure that you and your family follow makes life easier. Kids respond well to consistency. This should also greatly decrease the opportunity for an argument.
Structure certainly should include a schedule. Children function at their best when they know what to expect. Set them up for success. Whether your schedule consists of electronic calendar reminders or chalk board notes, it’s all good. It’s great to have reminders such as; the trash goes out on this day, recycle on that day, dishwasher every day and the fish get fed at dinner time. I’m also a big fan of visual success boards. For younger children, create something that lays out their chores, when they need to be done and create something that visually promotes a job well done. A gold star goes a long way in the eyes of a child. Rows of gold stars are Oscar worthy.
“Yes, please” and “No, thank you” are some of my favorite words, especially coming from the mouth of a child. Doesn’t that just make you smile at the thought of it? There’s almost nothing more fabulous than a child with manners. I mean real manners, not parent prompted manners. What happened to manners? When I grew up manners were not optional. How did manners in today’s society become an option or rare to say the least? Are you thinking of having a baby or already have children and wondering where to start? It starts with you. It’s up to us to be the manner models. I strongly believe when a child hears please and thank you, they will say please and thank you in response. It’s a manner structure forever in the making.
In our house, manners were expected and enforced. “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you” was our gentle reminder when the magic words were missing. Sometimes I’d just smile instead of responding when the polite manner words were amiss. Keep up the good kind work and they’ll get the hint. Whether it’s your own child or others, remind them how much you appreciate their use of manners. It’s just another great opportunity to praise a child.
You are your children’s manner model. The best models also recognize the power of an apology. What a wonderful gift to teach a child that even you are not always right. “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong” should be used as often as please and thank you. No one is right all the time and there’s no time like childhood to learn that lesson.
When you think of other families and their children’s behavior, do you think of something positive or negative? This should be a quick and immediate thought. Good or bad, you know who “those families” are. Naturally, there will be children you favor and ones you choose to steer your children from. The absence of manners and good behavior sadly effects your decisions.
Boundaries are defined as a limitation of an area. Boundaries are equally as important in raising children as anything else. A child without boundaries believes he can do whatever he wants, wherever he wants, whenever he wants. Being around such a child can be as enjoyable as getting a root canal. Parenting isn’t easy, but parenting without boundaries definitely secures your position on the hamster wheel. Who’s running your household? Is it you or your child?
The amazing precious gift of a child was not intended for the purpose of running our households. They may act like miniature bosses, but adults are the ones in charge. You may think it’s easier to give in and let them have their way. It’s not easier – it’s just exhausting. Be different to get different! A consistent NO, with positive redirection in its place will assure this train stays on track.
The power of a box… who knew!