Sunday, July 1, 2012

Figure. It. Out.

 "You need to figure it out."  I find myself saying this to my kids ALL the time.

As a homeschooling mom, who's kids are all at  home and spend most of their days together, you can be sure that there are a fair amount of fights and arguments that come up. And not only that, but being that they are mostly home and not at school, I have had to come up with a lifestyle where "Mommy" is not the one responsible for their entertainment 12 hours a day.

Let me explain.

I grew up in South Africa until the age of 12 where we had 2 maids and a full time gardener. I went to a private Jewish school (King David Sandton, for those fellow South Africans who read this blog:) and had extra curricular activities every day after school, ranging from tennis lessons, swim team, art class, pottery, modern dance and netball (similar to basket ball, but for girls).

When at home, there was always homework, tests to study for and projects to do for school. Then on the weekends it was always play dates with friends and lunches with cousins and grandparents.

I really never had to make any decisions as a kid. Everything was completely laid out for me. It was nice then, but it came back to bite me as an adult, as I found it very difficult when having to make decisions. I didn't have that confidence to trust myself. To know that what I thought would be the right thing to do, would be the right thing to do.

Fast forward to now and I really feel that it is so important to give kids that skill. To figure things out on their own in the real world. To make proper decisions.

When my kids fight or argue ("Mommy, he has 5 animals and I only have 4, its not fair..." or "She won't let me play with her and I want to.") and come to me to get a verdict (decide who is right or wrong and what to do next) I almost always say--- "You guys need to figure it out. You need to come up with a compromise. A way where you are both happy. Lets think of some different options of how we can work this out." And I would say that 99% of the time, after a few minutes of going back and forth, with mom as the mediator, THEY come up with an agreement and walk away happy. Both of them.

And if we have plans to go on a trip, lets say, to the park, and it starts raining- I say to them, "Okay guys, it's raining. We can't go to the park, but lets think of something fun that we can do instead." And we all sit down and decide what to do. 

This is not "giving the kids their way" and doing "what they want", but it is empowering these little people to think for themselves and realize that their thoughts and opinions matter. Not always will we do what they want, but we will discuss it, and figure out what works for everyone.

It sounds like a lot of work and effort, but it WORKS. 

Try it. You will be so pleasantly surprised and proud of how smart these little ones can be.

Wishing you all a wonderful week,


  1. I tried this method out a lot in my mixed-age preschool classroom over the last year. We were a small, home-based Jewish preschool with not many children; with siblings in the classroom, arguments and power struggles most definitely occurred! I found myself playing mediator more than facilitator/educator and felt that this was no better for the students than for me. It can be difficult to delay that desire to 'rescue' or 'remedy,' but just like you've experienced, it is amazing what kids can come up with. They not only have the ability to problem solve creatively and fairly, but this instills a self-efficiency and sense of confidence in them that they could not gain out of having everything organized for them! Thank you for this wonderful post and for a blog that has been incredibly useful to me!

  2. When I was in high school I constantly asked my Mom for help in making decisions and she simply wouldn't help. She said if she always helped me I would never be able to make my own decisions. I thought it was cruel. Now that I am a Mom I see she did me the greatest favor ever. I am doing the same for my daughter! I hope she thanks me when she is grown. :)

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