20140727_174506802_iOSThe school year is finally in full swing, and you feel like your routine has a nice hum to it. Life feels manageable, again. It feels good, steady, and on track.

Then — it starts. You see the look on your child’s face. The shoulders are slumped over. Not a lot of eye contact. Feet are being dragged across the floor, and shoes are suddenly lost.You get that feeling and then you hear:

“Can I skip today?”
“I don’t feel like it.”
“Do I have to?”
“I don’t want to go, it’s not fun, anymore.”

You sigh. You have a routine. You have plans, and now your child wants to change it – permanently. You wonder if it is a good idea? Should you make her go? Should you let him take the day off? Should, should, should…What should you do? It’s been two weeks now, and the full court press is on.

I thought about this topic in detail,  and have done research on it – a lot. As a mom to two athletes, and a tae kwon do instructor, I came up with a method that helps me and my girls stay on track. Maybe it will help you, too.

Here are 5 quick and easy steps to handling this all too common situation:

1. Ask questions and listen. Find out the reason behind the reason for wanting to quit.
– Remember we all want to experience a feeling when we do an activity or have a goal. What feeling is your child after? Is it laughter, companionship, coolness, accomplishment, the doing it, etc.? What is missing from that activity now?

2. Once you find out the reason behind the reason, take their temperature.
– On a piece of paper, make two columns. On one side list the positives for staying. On the other side list the negatives for staying. By the end of steps 1 and 2, you should have a pretty accurate picture of what is driving your child, and what his or her needs are. Remember to list the long term consequences (positive and negative) for quitting as well.

3. List possible solutions on a clean sheet of paper.
– This paper should be full of as many options as possible. (3 or more) Ask what is possible? What else is possible? etc… We tend to narrow a choice down to either a yes or a no. By expanding the possibilities, you actually open your child up. Once you open your child up, he or she is more open to trying. The goal of this exercise is to help your child to feel good about the choices that are available.

4. Remember the reason behind the reason, and write the prescription.
– You and your child are ready to come up with a solution to try. The solution should satisfy the “smile” the child is after, while at the same time, address what you, as a parent, think is important.

5. Implement the solution and test it.
– The only way you know it is the right solution is to try. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Keep trying solutions until you hit upon the right remedy that gives the child his or her goal, and that satisfies you.

And that is all there is to it. When we take those negative feelings, and shift them to positive ones through possibilities, we feel differently about our choices, and are in the right frame of mind to make the best decisions for ourselves and others. I hope these 5 steps help you to get your routine humming in a way that brings you and your child smiles.

Feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions. Happy Tuesday!

Until next time,