This week - Agreements! Merriam-Webster defines agreement as: harmony of opinion, action or character. I like this definition. Harmony of any sort sounds great to most parents I would guess. Agreements are an effective way to bring harmony into your home.
The Positive Discipline Tool Card for Agreements has 5 steps. In a nutshell they are: 1. Allow everyone to calmly voice opinions 2. Brainstorm and find a solution everyone can agree on 3. Agree on a deadline 4. Use non-verbal reminders if agreement isn't withheld 5. If all else fails start back at step 1.
The key is step two. Everyone that is involved with the problem, calmly and rationally brainstorms solutions. Remember there are no bad ideas when brainstorming. Once everyone has been heard, you all pick a solution together. Everyone agrees, genuinely agrees. No one is bullied into the agreement.
For us, agreements started to work at around age four. We have to allow our daughter to provide solutions, and sometimes we all agree to one of her ideas knowing it may not work out. We just have to let it happen. Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised when her solution turns out well. Other times it is necessary to go back to step one and hope that we can find a better solution. The agreements often require reminders at this age. We always pick a deadline and ask her at the time the agreement is made how she would like to be reminded if the agreement isn't met. She usually tells us what she want us to say and how to say it. Sometimes she makes a not for herself, hangs it on the fridge or her bedroom door and asks us to point to it if needed!
Our only problem is that sometimes we forget the deadline and so does she and then days pass, and then we realize it wasn't done. The reminder days later doesn't feel so friendly and is not as welcome. The other day she could not find her bike helmet and was going to miss out on the opportunity to ride her bike. She started to have a meltdown and we started to lecture on the importance of putting things away where they belong. Then she went to her room crying and from her room I heard her saying "you don't have to say all that stuff all you need to do is say 'I love you' and help me find my helmet"! She was right. At that moment she wasn't learning anything from our lecture and we weren't teaching anything other than shame and ridicule. I opened her door and asked for a hug and apologized for my mistake, then we went and looked for the helmet together. Later, during a break from the bike riding, I asked her how we could avoid having to spend so much time looking for her helmet when she wanted to go riding. After brainstorming a bit, we all agreed on a specific place in the garage where she would return the helmet when we all came inside for the day. We also agreed that she would get a reminder from us by pointing at the helmet or our head at the time of the deadline. Sounds great right? Yep, until we all forget, and the helmet is still sitting on the floor in my bedroom, waiting for me to trip over it. I wonder if I point at my head tomorrow she will have any clue what I am doing? We'll see! My guess is she will be bothered by me telling her to put it away, as if the agreement never happened.
I guess the moral of the story is agreement goes both ways, and requires followthrough from everyone if you are expecting harmonious results!
Next week will delve into: Natural Consequences. A very misunderstood parenting tool!