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How to Train Your Dragon... I Mean Children

Training is the difference between cooperation and chaos, between discipline and punishment. Training gets results when everything else doesn't.

An overwhelmed mother emailed me seeking advice (weeks before the coronavirus outbreak but even more applicable now with the 'corona-crazies'). My first two responses are here:

  1. I'm Having a Hard Time, My Life Feels Out of Control (aka How to Control Yourself So You Can Control Your Life)

  2. How to Positively Influence Your Spouse & Overcome Resentment (AND Become a Goddess in His Eyes)


In this post I'll address her next concern:

[I have tried to train the kids.] Kids are not doing their chores without circus acts by me. Half of the kids are teens and are both wonderful and terrible. The girls are self-motivated but resentful of the help I need from them.
The teen boy is wasting away, struggling with a lack of focus, lack of interests, and giving into distractions.  Last year he failed all his [online] classes. He’s no longer in an online school. I signed him up for your [husaband's] class. He enjoyed your lectures but wouldn’t stay up with the readings.  
He’s improved a tiny bit but still not doing anything, including chores, consistently. He fights and refuses to get into good habits or follow a schedule or routine. Early morning [religion class] gets him up but then he comes home and sleeps all day and stays up all night. 

You're doing the best you can. We all are.


[Especially during times of crisis.]


But sometimes we 'don't know what we don't know.'


And often the things we 'don't know' can improve our life (once we know about them).


There are skills and strategies that will help us be better parents, we just don't (yet) know about them, that's why we're struggling.


The good news?


This is NOT 'just the way things are'.


There ARE things you can do to make family life easier and more enjoyable (and to have more cooperation from your kids with less nagging and circus acts).


But first off, there is no try. Do or do not.


The wise words of Yoda. ^^^^^^


You can't TRY to train your children. You either train them or you don't train them. In fact, you are ALWAYS training them whether you are conscious of it or not.


Their behavior -- 'good' or 'bad', desirable or not -- IS actually 'training'.


They have been trained to behave that way. The training has just been unintentional or a by-product of reactive parenting (versus proactive parenting).


If you make an attempt to train them to do a certain thing and it doesn't work (which it's not likely to do on the first few attempts), then you have to attempt again, and again, and again, until you figure out what works.


It is a process of trial and error. And training them in any one way of thinking, acting, or behaving can take up to six months of repetition and instruction.


If you stop making attempts or instructing, then (I say this with all the love possible) you did NOT train them. You gave up.

The kids won't do chores and are resentful


"You don't rise to the level of your expectations. You fall to the level of your training."

Wise words by the Greek poet Archilochus.


This applies 200% to your children. They will NOT do what you ex