A few months ago, a homeschooling mom of 6 shared with me their family motto that I immediately stole and put to work in our family! Are you ready for it? Here it is:
We will obey,
the first time, the right way
and with a cheerful attitude.
I love it! Now, oftentimes, I just have to call out, "First time, Boo," and he'll stop, turn around and obey. It works so well, but we noticed there were still areas where that rule doesn't apply.
We needed more rules. My kids needed to know what's expected of them. Too often, Mr. Smarty and I would find ourselves beyond frustrated, when simply the kiddos didn't know they were breaking a rule. We hadn't taught them. They only learned the rules in our house when it becomes painfully obvious to us parents that there needed to be a spoken rule. And until late, there haven't been any rules, except the Obey Mantra, and more than enough frustration.
I remembered a few guidelines for creating classroom rules that I had learned when I was going through my teaching certification and sat down with the kids at our IKEA easel (thank you, Christy) and talked through some new rules for our family to function and thrive.
I had our rules in mind, but as we talked, I led the discussion so we arrived at a new rule together.
LESS IS MORE
I limited our rules to 5, and made them broad enough to encompass several trespasses. For example, "Don't hit" is not a rule, but "Respect others" (or be considerate to others) is. Now this rule also includes not making messes for other people to clean up. Other people...I wonder who that could be...
STATE THE POSITIVE
Each rule is stated in the positive form. Rather than having the rule, "Don't lie," I phrased it in the positive: "Tell the truth." This puts the focus on what they CAN do, not everything they can't.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
There are two other rules on our list to target areas where we saw growth was needed (how's that for being positive?). These may change as we grow. For now, they are:
"Be thankful" (which I expanded with-Have an Attitude of Gratitude-simply because the kids think it's fun to say). This rule helps with dinnerertime conversations about not complaining about what's on our plates.
and "Work hard." (this was after Belle finished her school work much earlier than usual one day. I asked her why it normally takes her so much longer, and she said, "I'm lazy." She's five and calls herself lazy! While I'm glad she's aware enough to recognize she was being lazy, I don't want that to be part of her identity in any way.
I love that now when I see a behavior that I want corrected, I can site a rule that they are aware of and "helped" form. They already agree with the rule, so there needs to be little discussion about correcting the behavior. It also is helpful for me to be more consistent with correcting and training my kids.
Enter our New and Improved Family Rules (trumpets blowing)! (with simple verses for when there are discussions)
Obey - Eph. 6:1 "Children, obey your parents..."
Respect Others -Mt. 7:12 "Do to others as you would have them do to you..."
Tell the Truth - Prov. 12:22 "The LORD delights in those who are truthful."
Be Thankful -1 Thess. 5:18 "In everything, give thanks..."
Work Hard - Phil. 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."