Thursday Thought: If I Were Teaching This For The First Time, How Would I Do It?

I’ve been watching my sister’s kids for the Summer. We were leaving their house one afternoon, and my niece brought out a craft that my nephew had made for my son. My son said he didn’t want it. I was so annoyed that he didn’t just accept it graciously, like I had taught him. In my annoyance, I prompted him what to say and do. He fought me on it, saying he didn’t want it, until finally he took it. I was left feeling annoyed and realizing I hadn’t handled that the way I would have liked. I tried to figure out what thought was making me feel so annoyed. It was, “He should know better.” I realized that I’ve been thinking that thought a lot, and it’s always really annoying.

“They should know better than to wipe their dirty hands on the table.” “They should know better than to gloat when they’re playing a game.” “They should know to not run into the street.” “They should just know!”

Maybe they’ve been taught it before, but obviously it hasn’t sunk in or become very important to them. Usually this feels like a big problem, because it’s followed by a thought like, “People are going to think I haven’t taught my children ____________.” So then we’re worried about what other people think. Or it’s like when we clean the house and we just want it to stay clean. “How many times do I have to teach them this??” So then it becomes all about us. We want them to change so we can feel better.

When I start feeling annoyance from this thought, I like to think about teaching them for the first time. “When our hands are dirty, and we want to clean them, we go get a paper towel, or wash them at the sink.” “It’s great to be excited when you win a game. A good sport congratulates others on playing their best.” “It’s very dangerous to run into the street, because a car might not see you, or might not be able to stop.”

How many times does it take you hearing something for you to really learn it? How about if you’re not very interested in it? A lot of times! Also, we can’t control how good of a student our child is. We can only control how we teach. I decided to just drop all of the drama about how I’ve already taught this to them, and think, “If I were teaching this for the first time, how would I do it?” This thought helps me feel a lot more patient, and patience feels so much better than annoyance. I’m a way better teacher when I’m patient than when I’m annoyed.

What thoughts help you to feel less annoyed with your kids?