So, the back story. A little while ago, we had some friends over for dinner. We often have friends over for dinner, but this particular evening must be set apart. This particular night, our children morphed into monsters. They made faces at the guests, the wouldn't greet anyone, they rolled their eyes and whined when told "no," they crumpled up their noses at the food that was served, they interrupted throughout the entire evening, they yelled and screamed up stairs, they destroyed their bedrooms, disobeyed by playing in our room, had no table manners, wouldn't say goodbye, and basically revealed every area of training that we had neglected over the last few years. That night, after putting the little terrors to sleep, Brandon and I decided something. Things were going to change.
Let me clarify something: Our kids do not always behave this way. They rarely do it all at the same time, on the same day. They are not always terrors. Generally, I enjoy being around my kids. This night did reveal, though, the areas that we had been just a little too lax on, too permissive, too inconsistent. That night revealed more about our parenting than it did about our children. And that is a hard pill to swallow. Thus was born the Scott Family Responsible Child Boot Camp.
What is the Scott Family Responsible Child Boot Camp? Well, boot camp in the military is a sort of initiation to life in the military, with strict discipline, hard work, breaking down the recruit in order that they can be rebuilt into the soldier that the military wants. For exercising, boot camp is an intense period of super hard, concentrated work, geared to jump start a new way of life. To basically teach the trainee that they can accomplish what they never knew they could accomplish. Our boot camp is going to be similar. We are done having to call a child 10 times to the dinner table. We are done begging the children to get their shoes on when it is time to go. I am done nagging the kids to flush the toilet or to pick the hand towel off the ground. We are done with instructing the kids to pick up a mess, only to find them 30 minutes later playing with said mess, actually making it worse.
There are many things that my kids need to learn in order to make them responsible human beings. There are more things than I could possibly put down in a little checklist. This week isn't about cramming in all life lessons a child needs to know. Just as boot camp for a soldier doesn't teach him all he needs to know to do his job in the armed forces. The general goal of this boot camp is to get my children into shape! To get them to a place where continued training can happen with a solid base of good habits. One thing I've learned in many years of working with children, is that if you want kids to do a task correctly, they must practice, practice, practice. If I want my kids to be able to go to a restaurant and have an enjoyable meal, we must practice manners at home, waiting patiently, etc. This is the essence of our boot camp.
So this week, we are forgoing normal homeschool, and we will be practicing a series of skills that my children obviously need to know. It takes 21 days to make a habit, so this week alone won't do it. But after this week, my kids will know what to do, how to do it, and will have practiced each skill over and over and over again. Sounds like a good starting point, right?
What will we be teaching this week, you ask? Here is a list of the specific skills that we will be working on this week. Each day, I will post the daily plan, complete with games and a schedule that we will attempt to use to practice the skills.
1. Table Manners: Keeping bottoms in chairs.
Using napkins (not shirts!)
Using utensils (not fingers!)
How to pass food.
Speaking at the table: taking turns, no interrupting,
no ugly words, inside voices
How to deal with food you don't like.
Being excused from the table
Clearing the table after dinner
2. Bathroom etiquette: Clean of rim of toilet (for boys)
Closing the lid and flushing!
Hand washing and keeping sink/counter dry
Hanging up towels after use (hand and bath)
Picking up after bath
3.Bedroom: Making bed
Keeping floor picked up
Habit of picking up toys after use
How to keep books on bookshelf
(upright with spines out)
4. General Etiquette: How to greet an adult
(greetings in Guatemala are very important)
How to answer questions from an adult
Yes Ma'am and yes sir, etc
(they do this with us, but not as much with others)
(My children do NOT know how to sit still for a photo!)
5. General Obedience: IMMEDIATELY coming when called.
Getting ready to leave the house
bed time / morning routines
Following a list of instructions w/o getting distracted
Working up to 15 minutes of sitting quiet/still
Many of you will see this list and think "WHAT! Your children don't do those things already?", and many of you will think "WHAT! You are expecting WAY too much out of your kids!" Let me also say that we have taught all of those things at one time or another. It just didn't really stick. So basically, we have been inconsistent at best. There are also a lot chores that we will be working on, but I don't want to add more than I can manage in one week, so we will be working more with chores after we get a handle on these basic things. Our kids are already pretty helpful with dishes and laundry. We have a maid, so figuring out how to work in regular cleaning will be more of a challenge, although I know our kids need to know how to scrub a bathroom. I am reading a book right now that I will be talking about later in regards to chores. And, thanks to many of you on facebook, I am putting together a comprehensive list of what a responsible child should know, and I hope to begin working through that list soon! Give me a couple of days and I'll post that list.
So, for this Sunday, we are going to be sorting laundry, practicing our bedtime routine and morning routine (just role playing it and doing it over and over again), the kids are making their own dinner (PB&J sandwiches) and then cleaning the kitchen.
Look for Boot Camp Schedule Day 1 on Monday morning! I'll let you know how it goes!