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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How to Train a Dragon

Cirque de Soleil Hat

When your dad is the US President there are bound to be a few rules in the house to live by. I was quite enlightened by the article posted on Yahoo about "The Obama's Strict Rules for Sasha and Malia". In simple terms, here are their rules for the princesses:

  • They must do their chores
  • They can't watch much TV
  • No R rated movies for pre teens
  • They can only have healthy snacks
  • They must play a team sport
  • Quitting is not allowed

This is a good one:

  • The girls have to eat their vegetables, and if they say that they are not hungry, they cannot ask for cookies or chips later.

  • That's one of my favorite ones because I am totally guilty of breaking that one with my kids.  Anyway, tt made me think about what our house rules are. How will we train our young little dragons to grow up righteously. Here's my list of guiding principles for myself and the kids, since I find that the word "Rules" sounds too much like the 10 Commandments. In no particular order:

    1) Sit down to eat dinner and snacks.
    Kid #3 is the only one who keeps leaving the table and walking around with food in his hand. The older two are much better and staying seated properly and finishing up before leaving the table. I haven't been able to just "throw away his food" when he leaves, but I've heard of parents who do that. It certainly seems very effective! So what bothers me alot is Grandma chasing #3 around with his bowl of rice and a spoon in the playroom. I know she means well and wants him to eat up, but it's not something I could do being the only adult around for most dinner times.

    2) No morning TV on a school day
    It used to be that the only way I could brush my teeth and do my makeup without little people climbing all over me and fighting for counter space was that I turned the TV on to the government funded TVO kids channel. Mind you, this is pretty good Canadian programming and I've even seen the Toronto made "Dino Dan" and "Kratt Brothers" translated and broadcasted in Spanish in the Dominican Republic!

    Anyway, it got to the point where they were watching way too much TV before breakfast time and no one was changing out of PJ's or brushing their teeth fast enough to get ready in time for school, so I made up a rule that we could only watch morning TV on weekend or non-school day. Having the TV on for Saturday morning allows their dad to sleep in a bit, since the TV is in our room of all places. We used to do TV for Sunday morning too before church, but now we're rushing off to do swimming lessons before church.

    3) Put your own dirty clothes in the hamper.
    All I'm saying is, I would like to be the mom who teaches my sons to put their own dirty clothes in the hamper; "IN" being the keyword. Not beside the hamper, near to the hamper or in the bathtub or on the floor, but actually in the hamper... to save the future wife some grief, or rather confusion - is this pair of jeans dirty or not? O it belongs on the floor? Why don't I just nail it to the ground with a nail then?

    4) Finish what you started
    It could be as simple as follow through, finish the puzzle, finish the maze, finish the homework page. Don't leave something half finished.

    5) Talk to me with respect
    No shouting, throwing things at me or slamming doors.  My daughter has a serious temper. Unfortunately I have no one to blame for it but myself. I might have shouted too much or been impatient with my voice. However I have never thrown anything or stomped away to my room and slammed the door. She always comes back in minutes, but my biggest concern is the tone of voice when asking me to do something (please, thank you) and reminding to say things in a nice voice not a mean voice.

    6) Work first, play later.
    My kids love to play outside with their playmates. All the neighbors have an open backyard and most of the kids' parents are OK with the kids running from one end of the lots to the other, and the kids use the doorbell at the back patio to invite their buddies out to play. It's a good thing to spend most of the before and after dinner time outside, but the kids have homework to do now. She is very good at telling her best friend that she needs to finish her Kumon homework before going outside.  Sometimes her friend will come inside with her and wait for her to finish the homework while playing quietly. This is important for them to know priorities.

    7) Take turns
    I prefer if kids "take turns" to play a toy rather than "share". Sharing is a little bit ambiguous cuz you can't exactly cut a toy in a half. I suppose you could share blocks and Lego cuz it's such a big pile but when there's only one ride-on car (actually that's why I have three of them) or one Optimus Prime, I like to teach the kids to wait their turn. In fact if I tell AJ, when you're done with it would you give little bro a turn? He usually finishes playing with it pretty fast and hands it over nicely. I even see him watching patiently when he wants something instead of just grabbing it from the big brother.

    8) Put things back where they belong
    Makes sense, then you know where to find everything. Kids are naturally good at sorting and classifying objects in the right category. The toy food and dishes goes into the toy kitchen stuff bin, the cars and stuff with wheels go in the car bin, the puzzles go into the puzzle bin.

    I have another pet peeve about all the power tools and sets of socket wrenches and screwdrivers that end up all over the house, so I bought a work bench and shelf area for the garage finally.

    9) Excel and be really good at what you do
    This one takes a lot of work and dedication. Right now the kids are involved alot of sports - swimming, soccer, ballet and formerly gymnastics. Other pursuits include - fine art, piano and math tutoring. At some point I think they'll have to focus and choose to be truly excellent at one or two things, like swimming and piano or something.

    10) In God We Trust
    I would like my kids to know that God cares for them and loves them and is real force in our lives. Sometimes when I have a cough or a headache, my daughter will remind me that Jesus can heal me if I pray (really? Thanks!) Other times, when my son is afraid of the darkness and the wind and the rain outside, we close the curtains and I tell him, don't worry God is watching. He responds, "But how can he see me when the curtains are closed"? Well it's a good opportunity to assure him that God is in our hearts.

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