The holiday season is upon us and let’s face it, my kids have lost their minds. Just like the sun’s gravity, they are being pulled closer and closer to extreme naughtiness. Despite my best efforts to prevent this pull towards chaos, their blatant disregard for my authority (for some reason, my wife still has a commanding presence over everyone, me included) and general holiday excitement that has them vibrating in their chairs has driven my kids towards insanity. Ok, but whose kids aren’t a bit nuts around this time of the year with the promise of vacation trips, no school and, of course, presents; it’s hard for me not to be a little insane myself.
So in order to maintain some type of order within our household (the big, cracked wooden spoon still holds some threatening power though), I decided to come up with my OWN Naughty or Nice list. I told my kids that I would evaluate them at the end of each day and then give each of them individually either a “plus” (if they were good), a “check” (if they were OK) or a “minus” (if they were bad). I haven’t figured out what they get in the end…I had threatened to take away their presents so maybe I will say that based on their score, they will get their presents or not.
I happily drew the grid on our whiteboard on the fridge, with careful columns for each child and rows for each day remaining until Christmas. And then I filled it out based on their behavior that night prior to going to bed. And then I started thinking and it dawned on me that I had made a HUGE MISTAKE!
I was promoting a competitive environment between my children. Just a few weeks prior, my wife got mad at me for doing the same type of competition with my statement to my girls: “Let’s see who can get ready and in bed the first!” I must admit, it worked really well the first time. But the next time, there were emotional breakdowns by the ones running more slowly, accusations at me for helping our youngest, barely brushed teeth, you get the picture. It wasn’t pretty. And, I was severely chastised by my wife about this. Lesson learned, or so I thought.
So, with the concerns about encouraging sibling rivalry instead of comradery buzzing in my head, I decided to talk to my wife about the Naughty or Nice list that I had come up with. The intensions regarding the list were good, at least I thought they were. My kids, who are always trying to please, would be encouraged to do “good” instead of “evil.” But then my wife and I spoke and she explained her ideas and what she does to encourage teamwork between our daughters. She is the expert. She is the one that has to deal with the “getting ready for school” chaos that ensues every morning. And she has a strategy that seems to work.
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