Sneaky Six Year Old | Teaching Self-Government

Sneaky Six Year Old

      ...my 6 year old is up to his old tricks.  He LOVED following instructions when I first started concentrating on this. But, today, he became his regular difficult self.  He hasn't been following instructions and when I tell him he's earned a chore, he won't do the chore.  And when I try the Rule of 3, he'll calm down and then still won't follow through with his chores.
       He has tried to solicit help from me (while I'm trying to make dinner for him)--I told him I'd like to help him, but I have to make dinner right now.  Then, he just starts goofing off with the rest of the kids.  Right now he's in his room because I don't know what to do with him anymore.  He's lost privileges also because of his behavior (a cookie I gave to his siblings, video games--I never allow, but they get to do it with their Dad at night, Saturday morning cartoons--also something I'm very selective about).  It just keeps piling on and I don't know how to handle him any more.  HELP!
           I just started implementing "self government" but without much discussion.  It feels like I haven't introduced it fairly to the kids.  Do you have any suggestions?  It seems like it would be too much for them to understand if I try to spell everything out, so I'm not quite sure how to go about it
.         Thanks again for all your help and willingness to answer my questions!

   I don't know your son, but it sounds like he is testing you.  Have you actually followed all the way through with the rule of three?  If not, he is probably playing you against yourself.  He is probably a very smart boy and knows how to push certain buttons on you that work.  This intelligence will be put to good use some day.  The fact that he calms down when you start the rule of three shows that he is perfectly able to govern his own behaviors if he chooses too.  This is a really good sign.  He will get it.

          If he doesn't follow the instruction then he is out of instructional control.  Even if he calms down when you start the rule of three, if he won't follow an instruction from you, he is still out of instructional control.  So, praise the fact that he has chosen to govern his emotions, but still teach him that he has to respect you as his parent by following instructions.

        If he won't follow instructions from you, then begin the rule of three. Don't stop the interaction until he is following your instructions (all the steps.)  If he seems like he is following instructions again, and then you go back to the original instruction and he doesn't complete all the steps, then pick up the rule of three right where you left off.  "You are not following instructions, so I know you are still out of instructional control.  You have earned (what ever step you are on)."  Then move right on to the next pre-teach.

         If he is in his room for a time out, that is OK.  Just calm yourself down, pray for the Spirit, and go have a counseling session with him. Explain to him what he has earned and and how to accept it.  Explain that until he can follow instructions, you can not start his time for his negative consequences.  He absolutely must accept his consequences!  Soon he will learn that he wants to regain control of himself, because it is better to just accept consequences and move on with his day, than to waste his whole day by having a fit.  You must be consistent with your system.  If you don't follow through, then he will try to get away with playing when he should be working etc.  It will be a lot of work at first.  There is no way around this, but after a few weeks of using the system consistently, your family should be more orderly, and have a more harmonious feeling.

      Don't forget to praise!  The more you praise his good behaviors, the more he recognize his good choices and want to keep making them.

      As far as teaching the children the family structure goes; the children must know exactly how you are going to handle every situation before you actually start your system.  No surprises.  You may want to role play what you will do with your husband.  You and your husband can show how it all works to the children.  Parenting surprises = anxiety for children.  Anxiety is the biggest reason the children make bad choices.  Take away as much anxiety as possible by making sure the children have comfort in knowing how your family responds to every parenting situation.

        You may want to make a set of cards with the four basics and the steps to correcting, pre-teaching, and the rule of three to keep in your pocket to use a reference for a while.  Using your cards will show your children that you are serious about making your family government work too.

    One last thought about your son.  Speak his love language.  Focus on showing him love whenever possible, so that a strong bond with parents can be an inspiration for him to be obedient. 

Keep Swimming!

Nicholeen