I make a ton of parenting mistakes
I don't claim to be a great parent. I love my kids a lot, but I make mistakes all...the...time (like every day). In fact, just this week I consulted with a parenting expert and he pointed out a massive error I was making - allowing my kids to negotiate with me - he called it "ridiculous". And honestly, once he put it that way, I realized it was. Ugh. So much for all the parenting books I've been reading.
What is a "NEXT TIME" statement
So, yes I make mistakes, but over the years I've also discovered a few gems. Today I'm sharing one of my top parenting (and life) hacks: the NEXT TIME statement.
Here's how it works. When something goes "sub-optimally" for you or a child; everyone is required to make a statement describing what HE/SHE would do differently next time. The statement must start with, "Next time, I...". As a simple example, your child wakes up late and doesn't have enough time to get to school and eat a proper breakfast. During your "debrief", the child might say "Next time, I'll set my alarm earlier". Or, "next time, I'll take a shower instead of a bath". Or whatever. Your job as a parent is to help them evaluate whether this strategy will actually work for them.
Why I love NEXT TIME statements
1) It creates total ownership of the problem.
Initially your children will resist. A classic error is they will say some version of "Next time, <sibling X> will...". The ridiculousness of trying to change other people's behavior becomes crystal clear in this formulation. The fact is, others will make their own choices. You can only control your own behavior. Period. End of story.
Note: this doesn't mean they can't ask you to do something differently next time. "Can you please come get me if I'm not downstairs by 740?". You can then decide whether you want to accommodate. But THEY must make a next time statement, every time. We're not here to raise victims.
2) It makes mistakes less scary.
We all make mistakes all the time. And yet, if we let our ego get in the way (it was someone else's fault, I was perfect), we fail to learn. In adults, this is one of the most significant impairments I encounter. People will make the same mistake, over and over again, and fail to grow. It impacts their career, their relationships, their health, and more. Nobody's perfect, and the sooner we can get comfortable with honest assessments, the sooner we can grow and become better people.
It also gets us out of the blaming mentality. I have friends in their 40s who still think issues in their lives are because of their parents!
3) It allows people/kids to fix things THEIR way
I've been surprised by some of the more creative answers to problems the kids face. In the end, this is about figuring out behavior change that works for them. It's not always what will work for you.