Anyone who tells you that you’ll get to teach your kids is really kidding you. Life teaches them. They teach you. This is the natural order of things. So what have I learned recently???
DON’T be too specific when correcting a child’s behavior. You don’t want to say, “Take your hand off the TV.” Then you will end up having to say, “Take your foot off the TV.” “And your elbow.” “That elbow, too.” “For Pete’s sake, don’t LICK the TV!”
DO use general, positive language when speaking to a child who is testing your authority. For example, say, “Use good manners.” This will give you endless opportunities to say, “That’s not good manners.” “Neither is that.” “Nope, that’s not good manners, either.”
Wait. Both of those suck…
DON’T ever tell a reluctant eight-year-old to do homework at a creaky table. You will lose your mind before she writes out the second 9-digit number in expanded form. If the groans, sighs, and head-flops don’t get you, the endless squeaks with every letter and subsequent erasure will definitely do it.
DO use small words when speaking firmly to elementary-age children. Nothing breaks the mood faster than an inadvertent tongue-twister on a parent’s part.
DON’T ever establish a consequence you can’t control. For example, “That’s going to break if you keep jumping on it!” It will never, ever break. You lose a lot of credibility that way. On the other hand, you won’t have to buy a new one.
DO get your kids a good-natured dog. Yes, it’s a lot of money and work. But being able to say, “Go chase the dog with your dumptruck—I mean, go play with the dog!”? Priceless. And cheaper than therapy.
DON’T ever be surprised. By anything. Anywhere.
DO get botox. If your facial muscles are frozen, you’ll stand a better chance of keeping a straight face as you say, “Don’t throw your underwear on the dinner table!”
True story. Well, except nobody here has botox. Needless to say, we didn’t keep straight faces. We did do some interesting gymnastics to disguise our twisted faces, though.