I learned this while working at an extremely rural residential treatment center for abused and neglected kids. My group averaged in age and/or maturity about thirteen years old. Nine boys. They were poorly raised, at best. Most were pretty untrained humans. If I cut loose my little animal farm in, let’s say in a Safeway, there would be many errors made. Many. So I learned, in the raw jungle of survival, how to increase the odds of proper behavior.
Any activity we embarked upon, we would have a brief meeting about my expectations. Not just what they couldn’t do, but what they could as well. Later, I refined my “expectation meeting” to my children. It really worked well. Actually, it became essential. I shall enumerate:
- Get out of the car and have a quick meeting. Keep it short and reasonable for the age.
- STOP. No more rules. Keep it simple.
- In quickly dissecting the example you can see that: *if you have a short, little dramatic meeting, *anticipate what the kids may do, and *minimize the rules and remind them what they can’t and can do, you have set the rules of the game before it is played. You have now seriously reduced the numbers of unacceptable behaviors.
- Also know that you will occasionally have to prove you meant what you said. A spazz attack in the cereal aisle might result in no kid-choice cereal that shop. Occasionally, we have to suffer a little to teach the (hopefully rare) accountability. You likely will not have to do this often.
This strategy is very successful not only because you are instructing the kids what they can and can’t do (set the rules of the game before the game is played), but equally important, you are predicting what they may do. This almost always results in calmer, more logical parenting.