I have shared this little parenting trick with my friend Laurel and she has seen the results in action! So here it is: When I remind my kids to thank someone or perform any other expression of good manners I embellish my prompt with a relevant detail and perky inflection, like "Say, 'Thanks for taking me out today! I had a GREAT time,'" or "Wow, I love it! Thank you!" First and foremost I do this because it is fun. I'm acting!! And any adults around can giggle with me as I urge my young, self-interested child to be so magnanimous. I also want my kids to know how to form a truly gracious statement so if they only utter a monotone, "thanksfortakingmeoutIhadagreattime" I don't worry about it. But some of this is starting to sink in because when I asked Lewis what he was going to say when he got to his friend's birthday party, wanting him to remember to wish his friend Happy Birthday, he said he was going to say, "Happy Birthday, Anthony. Your party looks great." Wow!!!! Now that's gracious! He hadn't even gotten there yet!
The other parenting success that saves us money and nightly headaches (especially brain freezes) is Ice Cream Sunday. Originally it was my idea to have Sundaes on Sunday to make it special and then we would just eat whatever was left the following nights. Ben took it to it's better level by limiting ice cream to ONLY Sundays. This goes for parents, too. (I cheat. Not every night, but I do cheat.) The kids don't even ask for ice cream on other nights. They know it's coming on Sunday and there will be at least a couple flavors to choose from and sometimes chocolate sauce. The other nights ice cream is a non-issue. Really. We praise ourselves every week for the brilliance that is Ice Cream Sunday. I'm not kidding. Maybe that is the best reason of all for Ice Cream Sunday is for a weekly chance to feel like ace parents. Parents who have things working out so smooth. Yeah... We got it going on... Our kids will occasionally express gratitude and they don't beg for ice cream. Our job DONE.
This has been a PSA (Parenting Success Advisement).
Art doing a lovely little Sunday ice cream dance: