The 7 R's Of Parenting: Reorganising
Reorganising is simply the ‘doing’ that naturally flows on from the R&R ‘thinking’. Based upon agreed circumstances that are operating well or not, we can make the necessary adjustments: by ‘doing’ more of the things that are working, through incorporating the new ‘thinking’ or ideas that alleviate what was hurting.
It’s good to set up Rules for the children when they are toddlers – but won’t the Rules change when they are in their teens? Absolutely. So you need to Reorganise. You Review and Reﬂect and start Reorganising what needs to be changed. Some Rules will be the same. Others will need to be added to or refashioned. For example, toilet training rules at 2 years of age normally will no longer apply at 10 years of age!
When we realise that a belief (Rule) is not useful, finding a way to reframe it may take a bit more effort. Case in point: Xian believed she could not travel on the bus to school without an adult. Up until then, we had caught buses together for other destinations except to school. We managed to get a reframe that with the experience of having done the route once with me accompanying her and back, she can now do it. So in order to Reorganize the option of Xian being independent in getting to school and back on her own (when neither Ken or I could do so, and so we did not have to get someone to drive them there as the only other option), we made a plan for it to happen – which you can read in example #1 below. She now believes she can. She still prefers not to – (why would you when you have been chauffeured by your parents up till you were 9 yrs old!) – but this reorganization needed quite a bit more effort!
The following commentary shows it is well-nigh impossible to separate the description of Reorganising the ‘doing’ of say, a Routine, without setting out what R&R ‘thinking’ went into it in the first place. To continue to ‘leave things better than when we found them’, we need to constantly Reorganise. Sometimes this is a natural reordering of process. At other times, we have to put heaps more effort in.
Now and then, there may be whole system changes that can seem like a major revamp of Routines. Some examples of reorganising in my family include:
Ride to school. Up until the children were in junior primary school, Ken and I have been running them to school by car en route to work. As their independence and confidence grew, Ken & I trusted them taking public transport to and from school. We had an R&R with the kids to organise how to transition the lift to school by car to one by bus or train.
Here were the steps:
- Mum takes bus run with Xian and Jett together (to and fro) – Mum points out the train route along the way for Jett (who prefers taking the train)
- Jett waits with Xian at bus stop to put her on bus before he gets on his train
- Xian comes home by bus with a school friend; Jett comes home by train himself.
Mum returns to full time work. Mum used to work around the
children’s activities whether it is school pick-ups and drop-offs or being chauffeur to get kids to ballet or tap classes, violin or piano lessons. When Mum got back to full-time work which required a reasonable amount of interstate/ international travel, co-parents (who both need to travel in their roles) had an R&R to tweak how diaries can be synchronised ahead of time so at least one parent is in town for the children.
Changes in the “Civil Code”. Any changes or additional criteria to the FGBP points awarded will naturally mean that when they are revoked, it will be by the same amount and for the new conditions negotiated.
Most of the time though, these changes can be small. It occurs incrementally so that the shift by degrees seem imperceptible. Very much like a niece or nephew who has been growing gradually taller – seemingly unnoticed by the parents over 12 months – until the aunt/uncle exclaim ‘How big you have grown!‘ at the annual family do.
How does it work? Here are some examples:
Helping with household. In recognition of the children’s growing abilities, and their desire to contribute to the family community, it is rewarding to be gradually giving them more and more responsibility. It shows Respect, it encourages partnering, it is about making a Routine that constantly gets R&R’ed, updated and Reorganised. Furthermore, it Role Models advancing contribution to the family. This is what we have been progressively doing during the weekly grocery shopping routine: at 2 years of age, the kids helped us spot the items on the list as I called it out; at 4, they started getting the items within their reach off the shelf; at 6, they were given responsibility of holding the list, reading items off it and checking it off; at 8, they help me work out change at check-out counter; at 10, they are given a section of the list, we split up to collect our respective items and meet back at the check-out for payment; at 12 … they get the grocery shopping done and meet me at another store in the mall where I am running other errands.
- Homework and music practice. Children enjoy the trust and independence we afford them. Their self esteem soars with what they perceive as ever more Respect. This can be achieved with gradual increase of responsibility for their own work.
At 6 years of age, I initiate this self-perpetuating Routine of Reorganising, which incorporates R&R constantly along the way. Their duty: time keepers – we did no more than 10-minute sections of daily homework or music practice; I sat close by to observe – only checking in to ask questions to directionalise them back when noticing they are off track, without giving the answers.
At 7 years old, it was as above except for this change: assisting (again with directional questions) only when invited.
At 8, as above but for 20-minute sessions with me floating in and out of their working space.
At 9, as above except they choose when to do their homework – I only check in with a question about how homework/ practice is going if I noticed none being done – and will not sign School Homework/ Practice Diary unless work sighted.
At 10, they show me their work as they prompt me to sign the Diary. (They have filled in details themselves except for my signature). If they have not completed a project and need an extension, I help coach them to plan the request with their teacher (assisted with a signed note from me) – and they need to do the presentation themselves
At 12, I expect them to draft the note seeking special consideration for project extension – and I am happy to countersign if the reason is satisfactory.
So what are you doing to transform the R&R agreements into Reorganised action plans in your family?
By Dr Yvonne Sum