Parenting On Track

Homework Strikes Again!

My blood pressure skyrockets as soon as I hear the word ‘homework’.  Pretty sure it’s going to be the death of me.  And no, I don’t have homework, but my son does.  It’s not hard homework.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s not even a lot of homework.  But it is homework, and it’s homework that isn’t getting done.  That statement right there has me getting anxious.

Homework has been a struggle since day 1 of Rip’s school career – all of 1.5 years now.  Yes, every week in kindergarten there was homework.  Every week Kirk and I, the very responsible parents that we are, fought with Rip about getting the homework done.  And we did this most, if not all, of last year.

This year, I started out the same way.  “Yes Rip, you can have a snack, as soon as you get your homework done”  “All you have to do is 2 pages of homework each night and you are good to go”  “Playtime is for after homework time” I even started recruiting Rip’s friends to tell him that he had to do his homework.  No matter what, it inevitably ended up in some kind of a fight.

Finally a few weeks ago I had a conversation with a friend of mine about homework.  In my head I know what I want to do:  let Rip figure this out.  It’s his homework, he gets to figure out when/how he wants to do it.  He’s in first grade…it’s not about the homework, but about what it’s going to take for Rip to want to participate fully in his learning experience.  We need to get this right now so when he hits the tougher years, this won’t be a struggle.  Got it.  Sounds so good in theory.  So frickin’ hard in practice.

My friend, who has gone through this exact same thing with her son, reminded me about the ABCDE exercise.  Quite a simple name, but not a simple matter.  Basically, I have beliefs about doing homework. And I DO!  Based on my experience, I believe that if Rip doesn’t start doing his homework now, he’s going to do exactly what I did – cheat my way through high school, have not idea what to do with a college education, be rather unfocused and scattered with regards to a career.

What the ABCDE exercise does is take all those beliefs I have (based on my experiences) and rewrite the story into one that makes more sense, something that is more reasonable, something that will let me focus on observing Rip and figuring out what it will take for Rip to want to participate more fully in his education.

Serious Irresponsibility


So my old story is all about Rip not learning or taking advantage of school and just being mediocre at whatever he ends up doing.  Being unfocused in life. Being irresponsible.  Being lazy.  Feeling like he could have done more with his life if his parents had just shown him the way.



My new story goes a little like this:

  • Rip, smarty pants that he is, does not like to do his homework after school because he is dog tired.
  • He really needs some down time to play and get re-energized after a long day of hard learning.
  • I know he is learning at school because of everything he tells us.  As a matter of fact, he is learning stuff that we didn’t even know about!
  • Who knows what he will do for a career but Rip LOVES to learn so I’m sure he will be successful at whatever he decides to do.

Now my next step is to really absorb this new story and start noticing:  what he does really well, what is his learning style.  Once I can really take hold of the new story,  I believe that we may be able to move forward and I can stop worrying about whether or not homework is going to kill me.



Enhancing Relationship Strategies #Fail!  Wouldn’t call it an epic fail, but fail nonetheless.

The morning started out all good and then I decided I wanted to get Einstein Bagels for breakfast.  Everyone had woken up on their own WAY early so in my mind, there wasn’t going to be a problem getting ready and out he door in time.  I tried to set the stage:

Mom:  Hey kids, if we can get ready by 8am we can eat breakfast at Einstein Bagels.

Kids:  Yea!!  Alright!

So, there you go, we’re all in agreement and there are 45 minutes left for the kids to get ready.  They were dressed already so really, it shouldn’t be a problem.  AND, right at that moment I should have pulled out the tape to help keep my mouth shut.  I didn’t and here is how I failed:

Reminding:  reminded Rip that he was responsible for making his lunch/snack;  reminded Rip that we would not be coming home after bagels so if he wanted to take his backpack, he needed to get it ready before we left;

Not keeping the agreement:  45 minutes came and went.  I did not let the kids experience the consequence of not getting bagels when they weren’t ready by 8am.  It was at least 8:15 before we were out the door.

Why did I fail?  Because I was HUNGRY!  And I REALLY wanted Einstein Bagels.  I absolutely wanted that bagel so bad that I let all my interfering strategies get in the way.  And in the end, I was so dis-pleased with myself, the bagel didn’t even taste all that good.  Ugh!

Ok, I always have to find the positive in any situation – just my nature.  So here is why this day wasn’t an Epic Fail:

1.  Rip is putting his lunch and snack together on his own.

2.  Rip is remembering his backpack on his own.

3.  I am continuing to learn lessons about myself.  Which includes when I want something, I will use/do whatever to make sure I get what I want.  And when I don’t get it, I tend to pout.

4.  I was still able to observe and take note of where the kids are in their skill development and where they still need to go.

Ok.  Time to move on to the next day.  Hopefully I’ll reach for the tape before it’s too late…

No nagging, reminding, lecturing allowed!

Ok, it’s been a little over a year since we did DNSN and we’re back at it.  Just a quick reminder, this is the week where Kirk and I stop using any interfering strategies (nagging, reminding, lecturing, etc…) and focus on observing the kids and ourselves.  The point of this exercise is to break our nagging, reminding, etc… habits and focus on using enhancing strategies (more on what those are in a later post).  The other point is to take stock in where we are with our training.  What can the kids do that we have been doing for them?  What do the kids need practice with?  What do the kids need to be trained on?

So today is Day One of DNSN.  Kirk is very grateful that he is in Vegas for work for the first few days.  I am very grateful at how calm, almost zen-like I am regarding this event (last year we were basket cases!).  Kids did pretty well I must say.  AND I managed to keep my mouth shut when the urge to start reminding came up.

So, here are my observations from this morning:

– Ripken can totally make his lunch / snack on his own.  I did make his sandwich but he was in charge of the rest.

– Riley needs some training on food etiquette.  She likes to eat directly out of containers and then place partially eaten food back into said containers.

– Ripken has progressed from last year in that as he got in the car he, completely on his own, remembered that he didn’t have his backpack, snack or lunch.

– I fully expect people to be ready when I’m ready and my blood pressure rises when that doesn’t happen.  Would like to learn to get this a bit under control as I think the kids can sense my tension and it does nothing to get them moving forward.

Now it’s time to go off to the store and buy some tape for my mouth.  I promised the kids that if Kirk or I start in with the nagging, reminding, lecturing, they could tape our mouth’s shut.  And we may have to do this to ourselves at times 🙂

Wow…can’t believe it’s been a month since the last update!  For the most part, everything is going amazingly well.  Kids are pretty engaged in the family and are participating more than ever.  I’m working on my training update but will have to post that next time as it isn’t quite done.

We’ve had 2 trip ups lately:  Ripken getting to school and Ripken and appreciations at family meetings.

The school thing we have been struggling with for quite some time.  I finally got in touch with Vicki to get some insight.  But first, let me say that Rip has come a long way since the beginning of school:

Beginning:  wouldn’t carry his backpack (too heavy – imagine whiny voice)
Now:  carries backpack no problem

Beginning:  couldn’t wake himself up
Now:  wakes himself up 95% of the time

Beginning:  wouldn’t put his lunch/snack into his backpack
Now:  remembers these items 90% of the time

Beginning:  would walk to class by himself
Now:  likes it when we drop him off at the curb and he goes in by himself

But getting dressed in the morning and getting out the door in a timely manner has been incredibly difficult.  Anyhow, what it boils down to is giving the kid a break.  He’s worked very hard to get where he is and I just need to back off a little and give him a bit of rest.  The trick is to do it in a manner that shows Rip that by me dressing him in the morning takes a way a bit of his independence that he so very much desires.  Oh, and me dressing Rip in the morning is enough of a kick start for him to finish getting ready for school.  The last 2 days have been AMAZINGLY easy and we have arrived to school on time (a bit early even).    We’re on spring break this week so it will be interesting to see what happens next week.

Appreciations – I’m not sure how, but this is somehow tied to the school thing.  Rip has been slacking big time on the appreciations and this is the kid that has come up with some pretty spectacular appreciations.  Anyhow, I had a plan in place to deal with the lack of appreciations but he kicked it into high gear at this last meeting so I’m assuming he’s just in a better state of mind since getting to school has been a bit easier.

Ok, hope to get a training timeline update posted before the end of the week.  I’ve learned lots since we started this!

Ok, after getting so excited about Rip getting to school on time 3 days in a row, and thinking (in my head) how we had turned a corner, we JUST barely made it to school on time.  Yes, I need to remember that he is still in training and there will be days/weeks (hopefully not months) when he just doesn’t get to school (or wherever) on time.  One of my buttons that will probably never really go away.

10.  We now know we can replace “No” with “Yes…as soon as…”

9.  For introducing us to the book “The New Global Student

8.  For teaching us how to identify why our kids act the way they do

7.  For bringing humor back into parenting

6.  For showing us how to have stress-free morning routines

5.  For giving us a format to appreciate family members on a regular basis

4.  For showing us how to be in relationship with our kids

3.  For teaching us to have radical faith in our kids and their abilities.

2.  For helping us discover that Riley, at just 2 years old, is a future chef in the making.

and the number 1 reason (at least for today…)…

1.  For 3 days in a row, Ripken woke himself up, got dressed, ate, brushed his teeth, packed his backpack and got to school on time!!!!

I had planned on posting that I was going to change my prediction on how long it would take for Rip to earn back TV/Video Games/Computer privileges from 4 weeks to 4 months.  Then he goes and decides that he is ready to get those privileges back and starts getting to school on time.  LOVE IT!  Not only is he now getting ready for school without any fuss, but he never once felt like the removal of TV/Video Games/computer was a punishment.  Simply associating those with a responsibility made the entire process smooth.   Ahhh…feeling good tonight!

Just wanted to post that the flight with the 2 kiddos went AMAZINGLY well!  Both kids were extremely helpful getting through airport security…as a matter of fact they were so helpful, I’m pretty sure we got through in record time!  Then they were both very patient as we stood in line to get on the plane, each pulling their own ‘suitcases’ full of plane entertainment.  Seriously, this was a very relaxed and enjoyable airport experience.

The flight itself was easy.  Rip fell asleep about 10 minutes after takeoff.  Riley entertained herself with colors and books.  The only sketchy parts were takeoff and landing.  Riley does NOT like to be sitting down when the plane takes off or lands.  But we will work on that.

The visit with the family has also been pretty easy going.  The kids are getting along well (only 1 or 2 minor flare ups).  Feels funny, trying to think of some bad things and having trouble!  Sleep schedules are pretty whacked after having traveled through 3 time zones.  Not going to complain if that’s the worst thing 🙂

More updates later!

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