How to have a parenting “do-over.”

I remember when Mark and I took a parenting class and learned about expecting first time obedience from our kids.

Our habit, up to that point, had been to count to three, or to threaten, or to get angry.

Now we had a different vision for our family and for discipline in our home.  But how do you change mid-stream?  How do you handle a change in expectations, discipline, or how you will handle things?

Mark and I have had to do this over the years when we’ve realized that we’ve either allowed something we shouldn’t, or haven’t parented well or consistently. We call a family meeting and talk to the kids about what we’ve realized or what we’re learning. We apologize for not being consistent or not handling certain situations well. And we set a new standard on how we as a family are going to act, behave, or handle situations in the future. We have found that this is a respectful way to change the direction the family is headed in and our kids have responded relatively well to it.

If you find yourself needing a parenting “do-over,” consider these strategies:

1) Tell your child/children of the upcoming change.  One mom had allowed her daughter to sleep in her bed with her.  When she realized this wasn’t healthy for her daughter or her marriage, she sat her daughter down and explained that “beginning tomorrow night, you will sleep in your own bed.”  This gave her daughter a heads up and a time of adjustment.

2) Apologize to your kids, if needed.  An apology isn’t a sign of weakness…in the parenting realm it’s a sign of strength.  Your kids will understand that you make mistakes and that you know what to do to clean up your mistakes.  When we sat down and explained to our kids about first time obedience, we apologized for not holding them to a higher standard that would serve them well in life (what boss wants to tell his employee to do something three times?)

3) Train to the new expectation.  If your kids are old enough, do some role-playing to train them to the new standard.  When we were teaching first time obedience, we did some pretending.  I told them we were going to practice first time obedience with a happy response.  I said, “In a minute, I’m going to ask you to bring me a specific toy.  When I ask I want you to say ‘Yes mom!’ and bring it to me.”  Then we made it into a game.  We played that game for several days.

4) Give a grace period.  When we introduced first-time obedience, we trained for several days and then we began our grace period.  It was one week of having the new expectation in place, but if they responded inappropriately, they were reminded of the standard and told that after the grace week, they will receive a consequence for that kind of a response.

5) Be willing to be the parent.  The standard is set, the training done, and the practice time is over.  Now it’s time to stand firm on your new direction.  Most parents find if they are consistent with communication, expectations, and accountability, they are able to move in the direction they desire to go.

If you’re dealing with teens, you probably won’t need the training, but the communication, grace period, and consistent accountability will do the trick.

What about you?  Do you need a parenting do-over?  Have you ever done a parenting do-over and you could share your experience with us?



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7 thoughts on “How to have a parenting “do-over.”

  1. I wish I had taught my kids to clean up after themselves when they were finished with something. I thought I was being “good mom” by cleaning up after them. What a mistake! It’s been a long, hard road ‘re-training” them to clean up after themselves. I am patient with them because I know I taught them this behavior, but I try hard to stick with saying, “I’m not going to help you find it. If you had put it away, it would be where it belongs.” and then I have to step back and let them handle the consequences. My advice is….train them young! Love your blog Jill!

  2. What a great post! Seeing as our little one is just fourteen months old, this will be an excellent tool to put into practice now. My husband and I differ in our upbringings and parenting styles so you never know what could happen in the future. Hopefully we won’t need a parenting do-over. Still what an encourgement to know that it’s never to late to enstill the principles of obedience that will serve them later on in life. Thanks.

  3. We are working with our 6 yr old on 1st time obedience- but my temper gets the best of me and I’m not as patient as I should be. I know I’m also not as consistent as I should be. I’m not sure what type of punishment to use (honestly, he’s been so good up until starting school we haven’t had to do much). What type of punishments did you find worked for that age (6)? People have recommended taking away tv time or video game time etc, but he isn’t into any of that.

    • Chelsa,

      What is he into? Whatever he is into is what you should take away. For every kid it’s different. We have one son motivated when we take away money (we reduce his allowance) and we have another that is motivated when we take away his ipod. What is it for your son?

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