Trying to manage the behaviors of a four-year-old is one of the most insanity-inducing experiences one can endure. Between the screaming, arguing, and general defiance, it feels like every moment is a battle of wills with the least rational human being on Earth. But that’s not to say Jaclyn and I always respond well, to Miles or each other, and in the interest of holding all of us accountable, we scheduled a family meeting this afternoon to talk about two main items:
- A set of house rules that we all must abide by, and
- Individual sticker charts for all of us to help curb undesired or nonconstructive behaviors and promote better ones.
To both get buy-in and make him feel like an actual part of the decision-making process, I wanted to include Miles in this meeting. For him, the idea of contributing to our sticker charts was too good to pass up, but he really tried his best to offer suggestions for our general house rules as well.
“We should have no more than seven rules,” I said at the outset, wanting to make sure we kept the focus tight and on things that applied broadly to all of us. “I have a couple already. First, I have ‘When you are finished using something, put it back exactly where you got it from as soon as you are done with it’.”
“How about ‘No running in the house’?” Miles suggested.
“Well,” I said, “that seems mostly like a ‘you’ thing, buddy.”
“Yeah, but we shouldn’t run in the house.”
“That’s true,” I conceded, “but Mommy and I don’t really run in the house, do we?”
We continued. Jaclyn had a suggestion, I read another of mine.
“No spilling drinks on the table,” Miles said.
I tilted my head a little. “Well, again, that seems like a ‘you’ thing.”
On we went, with Miles continuing to make suggestions.
“No ice cream before dinner.”
“About sharing toys.”
Again, I would say, “Those are mostly ‘you’ things.”
Finally, Miles posited, “No putting things in a fire.”
“Uh,” I said. “I don’t think any of us is doing that.”
“UGH,” Miles groaned. “Why I don’t know anything about rules??”
Miles did finally have his moment to shine when we were coming up with items for Jaclyn’s sticker chart. When I asked him for his thoughts, he quickly said, “No farting.”
I nodded. “You know, that actually isn’t a bad one, Miles.”