Growing up my mom always said it was her goal to be the meanest mom in the world. I always wondered why she said that? Now that I am the mom and am working my hardest to raise self sufficient, capable, confident children I more fully understand my own mothers’ intentions.
As my kids continue to get older each year, my husband and I worry and discuss how we are going to keep our children from falling into the ever so common “entitlement” trap. Unfortunately, we have talked too much and done too little. At 5 and 6 years old my first and second children seem to think the planet moves around their ever so wonderful selves. Although they are sometimes very good at doing household jobs they are constantly fighting, teasing, running, and yelling. My poor baby girl will never know what it means to have peace. In the last year I have gone from a mother who occasionally gets angry to a mother who constantly yells.
The bottom line is; I’m tired of yelling. I didn’t sign up to be a mother so I could be stomped on, screamed at and told NO. I definitely never dreamed of yelling at my kids and being angry all day. Contrary to what my kids believe, I love them very much and I want nothing more than for them to be happy and love me back. Things must change soon.
As I have pondered, prayed, stewed, and complained about my children’s bad behavior I have determined a few very important things. First is that kids need quiet time. They need to learn that there is a time and a place for noise and expelling energy. The second thing I know for certain is that giving kids everything they want does not make them happy and appreciative. They are not capable of understanding that in order for them to get a new bike their dad must work. The concept of ‘counting your blessings’ does not apply (at least not naturally, it must be learned). Giving kids copious amounts of stuff only makes them greedy, selfish and demanding. They soon begin to feel entitled to getting whatever their little heart’s desire. Before too long sharing is out of the questions, thanks and gratitude are never considered, and items are disrespected and completely lose their value.
I already see this transformation taking place in my kids when one of them throws a fit if the other one “touches” their stuff; when a gift is received and a thank you must be pried out of their mouth; and when their belongings lose their importance because they have SO MUCH STUFF and they know that if they whine, cry, and throw a fit they will soon get something bigger- better- newer. I have noticed this especially when bad behavior has forced me to take away toys and I have gained nothing because the kids don’t even notice the item is missing. There are very few “favorite” toys because so many of them have perfect substitutes (J5 doesn’t mind if I take away her stuffed dog because she has 15 OTHER stuffed dogs). Basically I have placed myself in a situation where I have no leverage to get my kids to behave.
Here is where I must now become the meanest mother in the world.
My poor parenting skills have left me with a big mess to clean up and fixing it will NOT be easy. I am, however, hoping the problem will be easier fixed NOW with two young kids rather than LATER with four older kids.
Here is the plan:
Step one of my journey to becoming the meanest mother in the world started Friday when I made the kids help me organize their toys. This is something we do quite regularly so they aren’t too suspicious yet.
Step two took place yesterday morning as I made 3 lists: A-Toys, B-Daily Requirements, C-Acceptable ways to fill time.
Step three happened yesterday afternoon when my husband and I removed from our home every toy my two older children own, including their bikes (my husband swallowed hard when I said bikes must go too).
Steps 4 and 5 were the most difficult as we sat the kids down to explain where all their toys went and tell them how they can earn them back. (#5) Enforcing the rules will be a daily battle.
The earning back process will go as follows. Each day the kids will be required to complete the tasks on their list of daily requirements (list B). They will then be given the opportunity to pick one item from their list of toys (list A). They will only get to keep the toy they choose by having good behavior. Yelling, hitting, fighting, and ANYTHING else that causes their mothers blood pressure to rise will result in the toy to be taken away.
Judging from their list of toys (yes, it is FAR TOO LONG) I anticipate this game to last about 30-45 days. Hopefully this will be enough time to create some good habits and break some bad ones.
I have already predicted the whining and complaining about “being bored” so this is where list C comes in handy.
Just between you and me, I am also using this as a way to get rid of some ‘unloved’ toys. Anything that is not ‘chosen’ after one month will either be given to good will or will be put away to be given to the younger children for birthdays or Christmas.
I must be honest, I have NO IDEA how well this is going to work. I do know that it will require a lot of effort on my part, but I just can’t keep ignoring the problem in hopes it will go away. It may very well be that my personality type was not cut out for successful parenting but I am 4 children too late to use that as an excuse. This world is filled with far too many selfish, entitled children who grow up to be needy, unproductive adults. I refuse to be a contributor to this problem, at least not without first giving it my very best effort.
Lucky you; if you care to see how this goes please keep in touch. I will make regular Facebook updates on our progress as well as a 2nd blog post to analyze our success or failure. Please feel free to join the competition and share your most successful discipline techniques or the times your kids think you are the Meanest Mother in the World!
To download my lists click (PDF) or (Excel)
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