Is it me or do kids think that it is their job to destroy their bedrooms and their mother's job to clean it? Please tell me that I am not the only one. Like my kids turn possessed as soon as I say it’s time to clean their room with tears and all. I’m pretty sure they talk about how much of a mean mom I am and console each other all while not cleaning. Don’t get me wrong, my girls are super helpful. Ask them to scrub the walls, mop the floor, take out the trash, etc., and they are all on it. But that very moment when you utter the dreadful words, “CLEAN YOUR ROOM”......all hell breaks loose. I just want to know why? Is there anybody able to give me a logical explanation for the complete and total meltdown that arises every single time? No, I didn’t think so. There is none. But guess what? I won’t let them defeat me and turn me into a crazy, screaming lunatic and then there are three crazies, two of which are probably crying and one needing a bottle of wine AND the damn room is still dirty.
Let me tell you how I don’t have time to argue with children over anything but especially not when it comes to cleaning one room in our home when I clean everything else. I’ve punished them by turning off the tv, not letting them play outside, no cell phones or laptops…...they DON’T CARE!! They strategically drag this process out because they think that I will get tired of fussing about it and just do it myself. That may have worked a couple years ago but they are now four and eight therefore, perfectly capable (I’ve seen it) of cleaning their room without my help. I will always come in and do some touching up but I am a firm believer in “if you make a mess, you clean a mess” philosophy….so get to cleaning. It is a real struggle y'all but guess what?! I have been reading and implementing some strategies from the Conscious Discipline philosophy. What is that? I’m glad you asked! Conscious Discipline changes the way adults perceive conflict, allowing them to become proactive versus reactive when conflicts arise with the children in our lives. This is a comprehensive classroom management and socio-emotional curriculum utilized in the title I school where I teach and have since adopted some strategies for use at home as well. One of my favorite strategies is to offer choices. When children feel like they have some control over what they do, they are more likely to cooperate. This alone has been life changing in such a short time! I’m experiencing less battles over simple things like the type of pants I picked out. Offer some choices and BAM...battle over! I feel like somebody should have told me this but that’s another story.
My daughters and I also love using I Love You Rituals to connect with one another before separating in the morning, when we come back together in the evening and again at bedtime. I Love You Rituals are, “structured connecting activities that include eye contact, touch, presence and playfulness” (Conscious Discipline). I feel like we are able to use those connections to regulate our emotions throughout our busy day and for a brief moment we are just focused on each other. It has de-escalated many four year old tantrums and helped me remain calm throughout the process. Although, this will be an ongoing learning process, I can honestly say, the techniques that I am learning have allowed me to be more intentional in how I respond to my girls when conflict arises. In reflection, I can see how I would become so frustrated that I would yell at them and they would end up crying and nothing really got resolved but now everyone was an emotional wreck. I was a nut and I couldn’t help them because I was no longer in control of myself. Conscious Discipline teaches you how to be a S.T.A.R and to smile, take a deep breath and relax/exhale because conflict is an opportunity to teach and not a reason to lose control. The more I breathed, the calmer I became. Getting the girls to clean their room is still an ongoing battle but I am confident that in time we will be right where we need to be! Be a S.T.A.R!