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Boys running in field

Be a Guide, Not a Critic

Be a Guide not a Critic!


I had this quote on my fridge for years to try to correct my thinking and actions on bossing!


The mother job involves a ton of bossing!  We tell them to do everything from brushing their teeth to practising times tables.  It is very hard to get away from all this bossing. We don't like doing it, and you may have noticed it's not received very well.  Who else will get children to do all that stuff if you don't?


If you live beside a train track, you soon disregard the noise of a train.  Because it thunders by so frequently, you really don't notice. You hear it but pay no attention.  Sound familiar?


There are ways to reduce the amount of bossing you do as a mother.  This has the very good effect of increasing the chance they will hear you when you must boss.  There are so many things we have to coax, coerce, cajole children to do.   (Think of 9 children x 5 morning jobs and 5 evening jobs x 5 days a week and, as if they do it the first far that's 1125 bossings a week) How can a mother still get the job done without the unpleasantness?


Some of these ways are covered in Teaching Children Obedience -

Action not words

Family Rules Chart

Say Yes (expand on this by telling them to do something you know they want to do - "You go outside right now and ride your bike!"

Listen Game


A few more ways are Charts and Goals (more on Goals later)


A chart replaces necessary bossing with a game. 

She does it more willingly and doesn't have the fun of stressing out her mother by excuses (very inventive) and refusals.

Examples: A butterfly chart with her name on it, and A FEW necessaries like "Brush teeth",  Make bed", "Put your dish in the sink"  (draw simple pictures for the non readers). She helps you make a pretty, bright, cardboard  butterfly and decorates it with glitter.  Put a flower beside each job because butterflies like to drink flower juice.  As she does each job she sticks the butterfly onto the flower.


Draw a clown on cardboard with  some strings going up.  He puts a cut out balloon in each space as a job is done.  (Write the job on the back of the balloon).


Add a treat as incentive if your little one is reluctant - eg "What do you think flower juice tases like?  I have some flower juice here at the top of  the chart" (shaped like a lolly) 

A real balloon with a sticker, a coin or a treat inside.  Pop it and get it out.


A chart's life is about two weeks - then it's time to move on to something else.  But charts are reusable after a few months and the children are excited to see an old favourite.


Some other charts:

Leaves to put on a tree (stamp them with a potato stamp and paint),The child does a few "Leaf" jobs each day and by the end of the week the tree is full.  The reward is to add birds, nests, apples and a child on a swing.

A cut out car drives along a road with Stop signs along the way that say "Pack your lunch", "Put pajamas under pillow",  "Brush your hair".  At the end of the road is a green light so they can GO!


I think of my "bossing" words as being strictly rationed. I only have a limited number to use up before they become useLESS.  Better not use them on repetitve daily tasks that can be automated.


Teach them, help them, do it with them (alot), use natural consequences.

In their many efforts be so careful not to criticise them.  Most things they won't do well because they are so little.  Most times they won't try hard because the things you want them to do interrupt the real business of childhood -  playing and laughing and cuddling and being silly.  Don't you know that's what matters?!


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