Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Rushing Kids vs. Dawdling

I read this article at Aha! Parenting the other day and it got me thinking about ‘rushing’ and how the points brought out apply to us. I rush my kids. A lot. And it’s not because we’re over-scheduled. It’s because they’re persistent dawdlers. I don’t think that the article directly applies to what I am talking about – there is a difference in pushing your littles to grow up too fast (not taking the time for them to be kids) and trying to get out the door on time. But, reading that article got me thinking about how often I say, “Would you please hurry up?!” and was a decent reminder that things don’t always have to operate ‘on time’ to be worth doing.

In any case, the catalyst to my rushing dialogue isn’t usually kids being kids. At this age, it’s more a matter of that pre-teen angsty ‘my life sucks’ crap. Have I mentioned how much I am not a fan of the pre-teen angsty stuff? I had no idea that it started at 9 – I was thinking I’d have at least 11 or 12 before we had this kind of Calgon-moment-inducing behaviors.

I found this article at Parenting-Advice.net about dawdling, and it’s short and sweet – only I can’t see rewards as a motivating factor; that seems like it would only teach them to prolong the task until they have a reward offered. I also disagree fundamentally with offering rewards for chores on a regular basis. I’m not saying that I bribe my kids (okay, yeah – I totally bribe them on occasion), but in general, having a clean and well-maintained home is the reward for doing your chores. Also, you LIVE here. And, YOU made part of this mess! For little kids, I get the motivational prods, but with older kids, I think that enforcing restrictions on privileges is more effective. This is part of learning responsibility. As an adult, if I don’t take care of my responsibilities, then my leisure time is cut into. Same goes for them. I don’t have anything against offering a previously unexpected perk – perks are different from rewards – perks are ‘extra’, unexpected; a surprise token of appreciation for a job well done. Even I like a perk now and then.

I also found this article on dawdling at My Small Wonders.com, which is really very good, but it’s the practical application of the ‘natural consequence’ line that always trips me up. Let your kid miss a meal? Not practical in my situation when you consider that lack of energy equals poor academic performance, and as a homeschooling mom, that means I’m going to hear about it every five seconds for the next few hours until lunchtime. And my kids mostly make their own meals nowadays, so ‘making’ them fix a sandwich isn’t a deterrent.

Another issue I have with dawdling – and my constant push to hurry up and get done is that some things are required on their part so that I can fulfill my responsibilities. My kids alternate each month between dishes/kitchen upkeep and laundry/trash upkeep. So far, this has been the most effective ‘chore chart’ we’ve implemented. Ideally, their rooms are cleaned and their chores are done before anything else. That doesn’t always happen, and I try to let them know – esp whoever is on dishes – what time I need them done by to start dinner.

And then there’s schoolwork… my, oh, my does schoolwork end up being the biggest area of feet-dragging agony. I know I’m not the only one who sometimes has a child come sit >thisclose< to her so that she can ensure that the child is actually writing and not staring at the wall or doodling, right?

The bit about a child not being committed or interested in whatever we’re about to do is irrelevant, IMO. I mean, yeah, I care if you’re interested or not – I plan things that I think they’ll be interested in, but sometimes, it’s not about ‘them’. And that’s OK. It is entirely appropriate for me to plan things that do not revolve around my children, and it’s also entirely appropriate for me to expect them to show enough respect for whomever the activity does revolve around to be timely in their preparations. …aaaaaaaaand that’s all good in theory. In practice, meh… not so much.

So how does one separate out what works in theory, and what works in practice? I have no idea, but if you figure it out, please let me know!

Reporting live from a very soggy Southeast Texas today,

~h

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One response

  1. I’m SERIOUSLY Laughing out loud!

    What’s not so funny, though, is that I think I push us for time often enough that my son is a bit…anxious…about being late…
    *blush*

    Don’t worry, I’m working on it!

    March 20, 2012 at 10:26 pm

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