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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Strategies of a YES MOM

The Lord chose to make me wait a decade before he blessed me with a child. During that very long wait, I had a wonderful opportunity to observe parents in various situations as they made the valiant attempt to raise healthy, happy and productive children.

One of the observations that I made was that children don't like the word NO. In fact, they rebel against it and often times a tug of war ensues.  The word NO seemed to inflame an already heated situation.

So, I decided that I was going to be a YES MOM.

What is a YES MOM?
A YES MOM is NOT Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or a Fairy Godmother granting each and every wish and whim their child comes up with; She is NOT a pushover and does NOT agree to every activity or volunteer opportunity.

I'd like to introduce you to the YES MOM and her Strategy:

*A YES MOM sets expectations to avoid a NO situation.
     A YES MOM will clearly communicate what is coming next.  This might be a daily schedule, use of a whiteboard, or a handwritten note.  It might be a verbal communication, or visual communication.  It might even be one task broken down into steps (ie: Brushing Teeth: first we rinse the toothbrush, then we put on toothpaste, then we scrub the top teeth... etc). She always rewards the child for carefully following directions.
*A YES MOM is a problem solver
    A YES MOM helps her child brain storm and think through a possible solution. If her child is missing a book, Instead of saying "NO! I have no idea where you left your book." she might suggest that the last time they had the book was in the family room and then ask her child some investigative questions to prompt their remembrance... She might even give her child a magnifying glass and pretend the child is a Private Investigator and write down clues that get them one step closer to finding the missing item. She then celebrates the discovery with her child.

*A YES MOM Understands "WIFM" (she knows how to bargain)
    Every child wants to know "What's in it for me? If I cooperate, how will this benefit me?" A YES MOM always removes the questions and uncertainty and knows how to point out the benefit of cooperation.  This benefit may not be something physical or reward driven, but could simply be the benefit of the child knowing that they are an important part of the family unit. She might say: "I loved the way you put the silverware in the drawer tonight, It makes Daddy and me so happy when the tools we use are ready and available when we need them. You did a great job.  Your family appreciates you and your contribution"

*A YES MOM is a team player
     A YES MOM involves her children in every day decision making.  She might allow them to plan dinner one night a week, help decide what to purchase or make Grammy for her birthday or have the special privilege of being the grocery shopping helper for the week (which always ends in a small treat).  Shared experiences draw us closer to one another.  If parents are always calling the shots, the children never learn important leadership skills.
*A YES MOM empowers her children
     Sometimes the order of events in a day can be flexible.  A YES MOM knows that this is a great time to allow her child to be in charge and exercise sound decision making skills. She involves her child in the process of making a list of what needs to be accomplished in a certain time frame and then empowers them to decide which order the tasks will be accomplished in.  For example a YES MOM might say: "Sweetie, Can you think of anything that we need to do this morning? (She prompts and suggests helping the child to think of tasks that need to be accomplished such as Eat Breakfast, Take a Bath, Feed the cat, Shop for groceries) She then lets her child decide which task they will complete first.  They keep a visual list and cross things off as they are completed.  A YES MOM always verbally shows appreciation and respect for the way the child handled organizing their time and accomplishing the tasks.

*A YES MOM is open to the ideas of others
     A  YES MOM solicits suggestions and ideas from her children.  She presents the scenario and then asks probing questions of her children as to what their ideas would be in order to resolve the situation. She then tries to implement as many of those suggestions as possible or help the children realize what would be workable or not workable. Children love the trial and error experiment and enjoy seeing their ideas put in motion. This exercise greatly lifts a child's self esteem and helps them exercise problem solving skills

*A YES MOM chooses her battles and uses positive phrasing
     Not everything can be a YES, but there is a way to communicate that elicits cooperation.  A YES MOM might respond:  "You know what? I think it is really great that you would like to read a few more chapters before you feed the dog.  That must be a really good book you are reading.  You absolutely CAN read a few more chapters, but I would like for you to feed Skippy FIRST because he is very hungry and can't sleep when his tummy is growling.  FIRST feed Skippy, THEN read more chapters" (she might even engage her child in conversation about the book while he is feeding the dog.  No one likes to work alone and she might gain valuable information by asking a few probing questions about something that interests her child)

*A YES MOM knows how and when to use the NO word.
     There certainly are times when a YES MOM chooses to use the word NO.  She is very methodical and wise in implementing it, NO doesn't just "escape" her lips in anger or frustration.  The word NO is not a manipulative word for the YES MOM.  The word NO is reserved for situations which are dangerous, urgent, an emergency, or of great conviction and she does not use the word NO lightly.  Her children know that when the YES MOM says the word NO that they need to stop immediately and assess the situation or the surrounding area.  They don't often hear the word NO, so when it is spoken it has power and reverence attached to it. They know that the YES MOM would only use that word if it were critical to do so.

You might think that the YES MOM sounds a little like Super Man with Super YES Powers, so let's look at a real life example:
How does a YES MOM handle the "I want" scenario in the toy aisle of a store? 
*First of all, she would communicate the purpose of the shopping trip: "We are going to the store to purchase Bread, Milk, Cheese and Toilet Paper.

*Then she would give the child the opportunity to be a responsible leader in the shopping trip: "Which items would you like to be responsible for putting in the cart?"
By agreeing ahead of time as to the purpose and duties of each member embarking on the trip,she may avoid the toy aisle all together.

However, if the child suggests the toy aisle, the YES Mom would do her best to use the toy aisle window shopping as a valuable reward incentive.

*She would express appreciation for a job well done.  " I appreciate the helper you have been to me today.  You chose a responsibility and you followed through like a great leader would do. Because you were responsible and kept your word, we absolutely can look at something you would like to look at"
*She would then set expectations and a time limit.  "We absolutely can look at toys for 15 minutes, but we will not be buying today.  When the timer buzzes, it will be time to go to the checkout lane" She then asks for the child's agreement: "Are you ok with that? going to the checkout when the timer buzzes?"  (She waits for their agreement).  When the child agrees, she reinforces "I know you are a child of integrity and you will stick to your word" (and sets a timer for 15 minutes)

*If the child "forgets" and asks for toys, the YES mom would show the child the pre-planned shopping trip and remind them that today's shopping trip was for these items.  I'm sorry, but toys are not on the list for today. HOWEVER....

*She then pulls out a special YES MOM strategy:  She affirms the child. She might say "I can see that you really like that toy.  Would you like to write down the name of that toy and the color you like and we can add that item to your Birthday/Christmas wish list?" She then flips to the next page on her shopping list, offers it to the child with a pencil and allows them to pen the information.
*She then starts working her way toward the checkouts all the time talking with her child about the toy and all the fun ways the child could enjoy it.  Most of the time, by the time a special holiday rolls around the child has moved on to other things and other interests, but by showing interest in what has captured their heart today in the middle of the toy aisle, the child is then cooperative and willing to alter the course of their actions.
*In the unlikely event the child is still uncooperative, there are consequences for the behavior at home (In our home, taking a long break from electronics works wonders! but you choose what is highly motivating for your child).  This is a vital piece to YES MOM success. The next time you attempt to train your child, they will remember that there were unpleasant consequences and be more motivated to cooperate and become a child of integrity.