Wednesday, April 24, 2013
My Kids Are Always Late - HELP!
I run most mornings. Neighborhoods are busy at that hour!! Last week an elementary age boy flew from his house, jacket flying akimbo, backpack loosely in his grip and yelling “Noooooooooooooo” as he unsuccessfully chased the bus…..
Today I saw his Dad pulling into the driveway in an apparent hurry – slammed the car door and flew into the house. I can only assume that little guy again missed the bus and Dad picked up the pieces by driving him the 4 blocks to school.
Yesterday, I saw a van zooming into a driveway, and ejecting a girl who ran inside. Within seconds she emerged, jumped into the van and it flew back the way it came - towards the school 6 blocks away. I wonder what she forgot!
So, what did these kids learn about responsibility and solving their own problems? I would suggest, absolutely nothing!
My thoughts? Teach these 3rd and 4th graders to safely walk to school. We live in a very walkable, safe neighborhood. I would walk with them a few times, pointing out safety rules, neighbors we know and what to do in an emergency. Then I would let them walk by themselves. Maybe I would walk or drive behind them a few times. Maybe I would let my friends know that they are walking. Maybe I would talk to some other Moms and get several kids walking together. Of course, I want them to be safe.
But kids who are never allowed to be independent are robbed of precious opportunities to learn to think and solve life’s problems. Many parents are so frightened by our world that they don’t ever teach their kids to cope with it. Think long and hard about that; they are going to be living in this world a long time.
Kids usually want more freedom so the idea of walking by themselves may be very appealing. If it isn’t, they can always take the bus!!
After I am comfortable with their safety, I would announce that getting to school on time is from this day forward, completely their responsibility. They can walk, they can take the bus. If they miss the bus, I will expect them to walk. If they forget something, they can go without it or come back to get it. Unplanned walking may make them late to school. If there are school consequences for being late, so be it. However, if being late should result in a call or note from school, I will ground them from all outside activities for that weekend. Oh, and I will not nag or threaten as they get themselves out the door.
Now the problem is on their shoulders, not mine. They are likely going to make a few mistakes, but they will learn! And in learning they will become more responsible and independent – all characteristics they are going to need to navigate the teen years and later, to become successful adults.
In the meantime, parents, enjoy a second cup of coffee - reminding yourself that parenting should NOT be the hardest thing you have ever done!