A "Politeness Plan"... have I lost my mind? Why yes, yes, I have! I LOOOOOOVVVVVEEEEEE our children! However, I do NOT love they're lack of manners lately. I assume everyone is burnt out on school and is eagerly awaiting summer break (1st gradeitis and junior kindergartenitis... I'm sure those are both a thing, right?). Either way, emotions are high and attitudes are quite hot in this house. This mama reached her limits a few days ago and was in desperate need of a solution.
So I did what every good/angry/panicked that they're kid is going to turn out "bad"/exhausted parent does... I turned to Google and Pinterest. I like to think of Pinterest as my personal "on call doctor" for every aspect of my life. There isn't anything that you can't find on Pinterest! I entered into the search: "How to get your 7 going on 17 year old, Bored 5 year old, Threenager and Tantruming 2 year old how to listen?" Ok, I didn't really type that but I seriously considered it, to better convey to the Internet the specifics of my problem. Naturally THOUSANDS of ideas popped up, none of which I had the time (or energy) to read because, duh... AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT in the middle of child meltdowns!
Just when I felt discouraged I remember a little gem of a book that we had lying around upstairs. It took a few minutes to find the book in the abyss of toys and dirty clothes (because our children are "allergic" to putting their worn clothes in the laundry shoot. It's a serious condition). Anyway, after a little digging, my daughter finally found the book.
Who remembers this?
The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners
Yeah that's right, mama pulled out the BIG guns!
(Are a good portion of you currently hanging your heads in shame like I am, thinking back to your childhood days when your mom or dad had to whip this book out?)
I flipped to the page where Mama Bear shares her wisdom:
"Mama didn't like what was happening to her family. Not one bit. Something had to be done. But what? The best way to fight bad habits, she thought, is with good habits. Then she thought of a plan. She got a big piece of cardboard and a marker. At the top she wrote: THE BEAR FAMILY POLITENESS PLAN."
**I would like to pause here to give my own mother a shout out. This is not the first time I have heard of this idea. She has suggested it on more than one occasion and knows that it works. Why? Ohhh maybe because she knows a thing or two about raising 4 kids since she has done it! What can I say? I'm stubborn and also very lazy. Love you, mom!
We had. to. do. this. So the Mister and I created checklist on
poster board Evernote (because we are lazy, the app is conveniently on our phones, I didn't want my hand to cramp from all that writing, and none of the kids would be able to read my handwriting due to said cramps). We made some modifications to "Mama Bear's list" since we don't have cellar and I would never let our kids clean the attic. We focused on the areas in which our kids struggle most. Just when I was super pleased with the final Politeness Plan I remembered that I did in fact have to write it down somewhere so our kids would have a daily visual. (dangit!)
I posted our "McDonald Family Politeness Plan" on our almost never used white board (because we're also unorganized) that hangs in our laundry room. Never mind how long it took me to write and re-write this list to make it legible. Also never mind my spelling errors, which I have yet to fix. I really should go do that.
Our Politeness Plan:
Forgetting to say "please," "thank you," –--> Tidy family room
or "excuse me"
Pushing, shoving, hitting, or kicking ---> Hold hands above head (for a few minutes)
Tattling ---> Wipe walls & baseboards
Talking back ---> Clean a bathroom (see checklist)
Interrupting ---> Tidy the play area
Rude noises, whining, "baby talk" ---> Wipe down cupboards & appliances
Not following directions ---> Pull weeds
Grabbing something from someone else ---> Tidy the person's room whom you took from
Not completing your "penalty" task ---> Silent time out for 10 minutes
We presented this to the kids. They're reaction was somewhere between SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR! and AREYOUFREAKINGKIDDINGME? It's been day 2 of using this idea and lets just say that our house is much cleaner than it was a couple of days ago. We will either have well mannered children or we will have an extremely clean house (and yard)! On a more serious note though, they truly are doing better. They are more mindful of their words and actions towards each other and even after a couple of days, they're beginning to catch themselves before they choose to follow through with a rude action. By default, their responsibilities have increased. Which provides more structure to our day, a sense of accomplishment and that we are a team. Our days are always less chaotic when the kids have a little more responsibility. My mother has also suggested this to me before... I really need to do a better job of listening to her. ;)
So far our Family Politeness Plan is proving to be a win-win for all!