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Parenting Routines Children

3. Don't mud-wrestle with pigs! 

Bright kids love intensity. They like drama, soap operas, grunge, gore, horror, and action. Not only that, they are very, very talented at creating drama, horror, and action. As they get lots of drama in their life, they are used to it. Drama and intensity are home base for them.

Parenting Routines Children

I always say to parents that arguing with a bright child is a lot like mud-wrestling a pig; you both end up dirty but only the pig is happy. If you want to entertain them by providing an argument or a fight, please go right ahead, but if you really want to help your child learn a broader range of behaviors, we are going to need to find another way.

This doesn't mean parents have to give in to bright children, It does mean they need to be sneakier! Unless you want to mud-wrestle a pig, and thereby entertain your bright child, you are going to have to give up a habit that creeps into the lives of most parents at some stage: 

The dangerous art of the provocative question
Yes, the art of the provocative question is a method used by many parents, and it is 100 percent guaranteed to cause an argument. Examples of provocative questions include:
  • "Have you got any homework?"
  • "Have you cleaned your room?" (When it's clear she hasn't)
  • "You don't think you are going out looking like that, do you?" 
  • "How many times do I have to tell you?" 
  • "What were you thinking?" 
  • "I suppose you can explain why your school report looks like this, can you?" 
If you want to get a bright kid into defensive argument mode, ask a provocative question. It will entertain her and exasperate you. It will spark a debate and a conflagration that will last for hours.

Turn provocative questions into definite, clear statements. Some examples are:
  • "Okay, it's homework time."
  • "Let's get the room cleaned up before dinner."
  • "I'd like to remind you of our agreement." 
  • "Let's chat about how to help you with school." 
This leads us to the next golden rule, which is that most parents of bright kids find routines more powerful than words. 

4. What you do is more important than what you say
It's not always what you say, it's often what you do. In recent decades there seems to have been a tendency for parents to feel they need to explain everything to their children. While some explanations can be useful, parents have fallen into the trap of believing if they just give their child the right explanation, then all will be well.

This might work well for some children, but bright children often don't stick around long enough to hear the words, or are so busy getting their own point of view across that you just don't get a chance. With bright children, what you do is more important than what you say.
There is very good research that tells us that the small rituals that we put into family life are a powerful positive force. They build goodwill and routine and, with bright children, routines and rituals are good. The rituals don't need to be expensive, in fact the best ones cost very little or nothing. Rituals are the things you regularly do that later on you hope your children will say, "Mom always made sure we did ..." or "Dad always involved us in ..... "

Your rituals will most likely be different from other families'. It might be the Friday night pizza, the Wednesday evening walk after dinner, or the Sunday night movie. A ritual is something you do regularly as a family that does not depend on how children are behaving.

Rituals act like coat hangers upon which people hang the good memories of their lives.

When you raise bright children, it is highly likely that your family rituals slip. Time after time I hear parents tell me, "We used to get pizza on Friday nights, but one night he went wild so we stopped that" or "We used to go out together, but she caused such a fuss we stopped it."

If this is true for your family, stop and think about the types of rituals you could start.
Some examples of family rituals 
  • Monday movie
  • Thursday takeaway dinner
  • Swimming together at the Local pool 
  • Friday pizza 
  • Sunday Lunch 
  • Saturday morning clean-up 
  • Wednesday evening bowling 
  • Church 
  • Community functions 
  • Sports 
  • Watching some TV shows together (especially if you discuss them afterwards) 
  • Caring for pets 
  • Family gatherings 

To find out more, you can check out Parenting Routines Children.