Right now I'm doing something that I hope will improve our everyday and curb some of the complaining, particularly from me. I'm writing out our house rules. I actually never thought to do this before.. writing out rules isn't very zen, and in our house of boys my overall goal at the moment is to achieve a certain amount of sereneness and calm in our home one day!
Here are some of our rules...
- Take your shoes off at the door.
- Empty your schoolbag when you come home from school.
- Wash your hands before meals.
- Sit at the table until everyone is finished.
- Don't stand up from the table with food in your mouth.
- No toys at the table.
- No food in any other rooms of the house apart from the kitchen.
- Clear your plate to the counter when you’re finished eating.
- No standing or jumping on the furniture.
- No throwing in the house. Ball games only allowed in the landing where nothing can be knocked over – or even better OUTSIDE!
- Tidy toys away when you’re finished playing.
- No teasing. If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything.
- Be kind to each other. Use a kind voice when speaking to other people in our family.
- Be polite. Remember your good manners. Always say hello and goodbye to people who come to our home. Always say please and thank you.
- No fighting games first thing in the morning.
- Remember all the rules of our home!
From the time the boys were very young each one of these rules has been told (ok, sometimes loudly told) time and time again and paradoxically they're ultimately for the purpose of everyone living in harmony.
Another reason why I'm writing about this is because I often wonder why some of our rules are followed by the boys but others require huge amounts of reminding. Or maybe more to the point, why a certain rule is second nature to one but not to someone else.
I'm reading a book at the moment called 'The Four Tendencies' by best-selling non-fiction author Gretchen Ruben. It's not a parenting book and it's not a book about following rules, it's a book about personality types. In it she says 'In just about all situations framing expectations to suit the four tendencies can bring more co-operation.' 'In most cases when we try to influence others, we use the stratagies that would work on us. The four tendencies can help us, instead, to give other people what they need - not what we would need. And then we can work together more harmoniously.'
So from The Four Tendencies here are the personality types..
- Obliger- "You can count on me, and I'm counting on you to count on me" Meets outer expectations, resists inner expectations.
- Questioner- "I'll comply-if you convince me why" Resists outer expectations, meets inner expectations.
- Upholder- "Discipline is my freedom" Meets outer and inner expectations.
- Rebel- "You can't make me, and neither can I" Resists outer expectations, resists inner expectations.
Definitely without a doubt we have two questioners, I'm including my husband here! And possibly, like me, two obligers, ..one could be an upholder though. As Gretchin Rubin says it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact tendency of children.
Questioners want justifications.
Obligers need accountability.
And in case we do have an upholder... Upholders want to know what should be done.
So in the case of our questioner, a way to phrase the 'Tidy toys away' rule.. would be instead of saying "Put those blocks away!" which is a very direct command expecting him to meet my expectations, "Those blocks need to go on the shelf so they'll be easy to find when you want to play with them next time". This has been changed to a clear command with the reason why the blocks need to go back on the self, perfect for a questioner!
So while I'm in the process of writing out our 'House Rules' they're about to be rethought, and more importantly reframed (especially on delivery!), so every personality-type in the family will co-operareate.