The Transforming Question

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Last year I wrote about a love that transforms (click here if you didn’t read it), and when I thought of today’s title, I really didn’t want to use the same word, but I couldn’t think of another one that worked, or fit the same way as this one.  Changing doesn’t work.  Life-altering?  Well, I wouldn’t go that far.  And so, we are just going to stick with transform, I figure it’s been close to 50 posts since I wrote transform in my title, maybe it’s okay to reuse the word now.  Okay, I’m going to get back on track now.  When Brian and I took our parenting class in the fall, there were a few things that stuck with us that we have been implementing in our house.  I loved the idea of the mission statement that I wrote about in Identity Crisis: Part 2, and there was the topic of story-telling that was really great too.  And then one week we focused on responsibility.  While I don’t remember everything said that evening, I remember learning about the magic question, What needs to be done?  So. very. simple.  It offers the children a chance to take a look around and answer the question, make a decision on what they are going to do about it and tackle it.  I do not want to be a nagging mom.  Currently, I am not, but maybe it is just the age of the kids.  Maybe I just haven’t had the need yet.  If that is the case, even when the time comes, I want to avoid repeating myself to the point that my kids tune me out and don’t even listen.  Instead of saying, “Clean your room!”  You could walk into the room with your kiddos and say, “Let’s take a look around and ask ourselves what needs to be done?”  The overwhelming sense of cleaning the whole room suddenly isn’t looming over them.  Now, they can break it down into smaller doable tasks like, the dirty clothes need to be put in the hamper, my bed needs to be made, the Barbies need to be put back in the bag, etc.  It is such a simple change in what we might normally say, yet it seems to make a world of difference.  I felt that it helped us look at maintaining the house a joint effort.  If you see dirty clothes on the floor whether they are yours or not, pick them up and put them in the hamper.  It brings about action instead of waiting for someone else to do it.  It has the ability to take the focus off of ourselves and to look at the big picture, even globally, really.  Instead of your son or daughter saying, “that’s not my job”, we look it as a job that needs to be done and whether or not we are able to take care of it.  When we are at the park and we see trash on the ground, we can teach our kids that something needs to be done, and why don’t we pick up the trash so that the place looks nicer for all of us who enjoy this park?

Sometimes, I just want the kids to be entertained with something so that I can clean up and feel like I am making progress.  But recently I have tried involving Piper (and Tatum sometimes, mostly I still don’t make any progress until nap time)and have used that question.  For instance, one day we were having some friends over for dinner and I told Piper that we were having friends over and that we were going to eat outside and I told her what we were having.  I wanted her to know what the plan was and then I asked, “What needs to be done?”  She said, “the dog poop needs to be picked up and I’ll clean the water table.”  I really didn’t see a need for the water table to be cleaned, but I let her clean it, anyways.  She wanted to and she decided that it was something that needed to be done.  Besides it kept her busy!  I was so happy that I didn’t tell her what I thought needed to be done, because do you know what?  The kids played in the water table that night and I was sure glad it was clean!

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