Empower Your Words and Your Child's Choices


This is a story time post.

How many times do you ask your children to get their shoes on?

Is your child getting their shoes on the first time you request? Do you have to nag, beg, or yell to get those shoes on just moments before rushing out the door?

You are not alone, it's like some silly game children learn to play. But I want to empower you that if we put our children in the driver's seat of their choices, moments like this can become easier.

Today I share with you a story that includes execution of creating a safe failure. And by safe failure I mean a moment where you keep your cool to allow your children to fail, learning the consequences to their actions.

Recently, while talking about this topic a Mom shared "But this is my hill to die on" and that stuck out for me. In this scenario, the Mom is taking responsibility for her child being prepared- creating a child-led routine using my 4 step process helps put your child back in the driver's seat, taking accountability for their choices.

My goal is to shift that responsibility back to your child- so you have your life back!

It just so happens to be a story of when I requested shoes to be put on.

Whenever I work with a family on building a new routine, I always share this story.

I was with two boys and these brothers found great fun in running around the house whenever the phrase "Can you get your shoes on please" was said. I witnessed this play out many times. Until I decided I wanted that to change, for me. I no longer wanted to nag, barter, beg, or bribe them to get them on to get out the door.

So I arranged a safe failure. This was a moment where I released my attachment to the end result but set the boys up to fail. This was a moment where I wanted to practice staying firm without screaming or going all Darth Vader on them. I did this so that I would stay calm. So this was not an important appointment. It was a fun task!

I suggested we go to the library. The boys were excited to go and get more books. I told them that I was with them until 6pm and we would leave around 4:30pm- that would give us just enough time to enjoy some books before we'd have to come home at 5:30pm. I spelled every check point out and told them I was going to set an alarm on my phone. They were excited!

Then came the cue "Hey guys, let's get out shoes on and go"

And just on cue- the CHAOS ensued. They ran around the house for a FULL HOUR!!!! I was amazed. I was working on staying calm and preserving my personal bandwidth because I knew what was coming.

I was going to let them fail.

The turning point.

Now it was 5:30pm when they finally got their shoes on. I was sitting on the ground by the front door, silent by this point, just patiently waiting for them to get their shoes on.

I don't know what prompted the shift, other than perhaps they were bored and ready to go. So they stopped running around, got their shoes on, and grabbed the library bag.

I knew we were never going to get the library, but again I was using this as a learning moment. A mistake that would set a new bar. I loaded them up in the car and started to drive away.

We got to the end of the neighborhood when my "Go Home" alarm went off. This prompted questions and I answered, "Well, it's time to go home- that's a bummer!"

They were confused first, then when I turned the car around they were furious with me. The oldest quickly assigning me blame. And begged to “earn back” library time. It was hard to share that time was finite and they were choosing to run around instead of getting ready.

I calmly shared that they spent their library time running around the house and they thought it was more fun to do that then get their shoes on. I think they were in shock and surprise.

When we got home they were NOT happy. We got unbuckled and went back inside where they started yelling at me "It's your fault we didn't get to go. You are the worst. I hate you!" They were trapped in the mid-brain and I could identify that what I needed to do is calm them down so we could talk about it.

I validated and said "Yeah, you're mad. I can see you're mad. You are so mad that you chose to run around the house and not get your shoes on, missing the library."

That's when they stopped. The older brother said "But we wanted to go to the library" and I answered "I know, so did I, but you chose to run around and use your library time that way. Which I think is a silly way to spend the time. Let's try again tomorrow"

The next day we tried it again, and this time they knew I meant business when I asked them to get their shoes on.

All I did was listen to their choices. And they learned to listen to my words.

This was a turning point for the rest of the summer. The boys quickly learned that I meant what I said. I was going to make a request and then I was going to honor their choice, but I was not going to rescue or fix their mistakes.

As soon as their realized that the time spent together could not be earned back, they chose their negotiations more confidently. We could always try again but the window of action was quite small.

I know this seems like a hard boundary. I had checked for competency- like they KNEW how to put their shoes on. I had created an agreement beforehand, by laying out the plan and setting firm benchmark times. I worked hard to keep myself calm when I knew they were making a mistake. I did not choose a time to practice this when I NEEDED to get out the door, I created a moment where I could release the outcome. And then I just practiced and stayed respectful but firm.

I know this is not easy, but I can help it be a bit easier.