In your household, who is the boss? You, or your children? I think right now, my 3 and a half year old pretty much rules our world!
Are you too tough or too accommodating? Hands down, I fall in the 'too accommodating' category. For instance, a usual day when I am not at work would involve me asking my oldest son what he wants to do for the day.
"Christos, what do you want to do today? Do you want to go to playgroup?
"Okay. How about we go to the science museum?"
Or when I 'tell' my son it is time to leave (the museum, the mall, a playdate) I don't really 'tell' him it's time to leave; rather, I let him decide. "Christos, we are going to leave in 5 minutes, is that okay with you?" And of course, he either says 'no' or '5 more minutes'. When I tell him his 5 minutes are up, he says he meant to say 20 minutes. I usually laugh it off, but sometimes, it's tough to get him to listen. A recent article I read on CNN.com talks about the importance of setting reasonable limits and teaching children to respect authority.
I wouldn't classify myself as a 'calm' mom. Maybe it's because I'm Greek and we're not generally calm and relaxed people to begin with! Regardless, lately, I've been trying really hard to be more calm as a mother and to put my foot down when I need to.
It is important to give children some independence, though. And they should be allowed to make some decisions for themselves. But I'm beginning to figure out that the big decisions - what time to leave the house, what time they should get ready for bed - should be decisions left for me and my husband to decide.
Decisions like what my children want to eat for breakfast, or what they want to wear in the morning (for the most part) can be decisions that they can make. (Well, for my oldest son, anyway). It's important for them to have 'decision making powers' because it will help them when they go to school. And it's important for them to be able to listen and follow rules, especially when it's time for them to go to school!
I think we can pick and choose our battles, right? I'm trying hard to be more authoritative with my children. Saying no is not easy for me, but I am trying.
Over the weekend, my 15 month old was having fun in the grocery store, by moving some products from one shelf to another shelf. I tried saying no a couple of times, but it upset him, so I let him continue. Afterwards, I put him in the grocery cart, and put the products back to where they belonged. Some moms probably wouldn't find this acceptable. But I let him play. And I did put the things back. I don't think this will result in him being a rebel when he's older, do you?
And my oldest son? He's very independent now. It almost happened overnight! I'm proud that he now goes to the bathroom on his own, without even telling us, washes his hands, puts his plate in the sink, and puts on his own shoes. Of course, he'll have his moments when he gets frustrated when we say no. The other day, he wanted to cut the grass in the front yard. But it was dinner time. So we said no. And left it at that. He sulked on the couch for a bit, but then got excited about going on a walk with my sister and I. We said the walk would happen after he ate his dinner. I asked him to come to the table, and he said: "Okay. Just let me get happy again." And just like that, he became his normal, happy self again!
What is your parenting style? Do you give in too easily, or are you firm with your children?