What are we going to do (today)?

Posted by  | Tuesday, July 5, 2011  at 9:51 PM  
I recently sent out an email to my friends asking advice for a current dilemma we are facing with our oldest, Georgia. I thought I would share with you both what is going on, as well as the responses from several friends. We have not solved this 'problem' by any stretch of the imagination, so PLEASE feel free to add your suggestions/thoughts/advice in the comments.

I am emailing you to ask you advice about my daughter, Georgia. She has one question that she asks all the time, every day: "What are we going to do?" Sometimes it is at night: "What are we going to do when we wake up?" In the morning, it is "What are we going to do today?" Even if I give her a response, it is often "And what are we going to do after that?" If she accepted my response to the question, that would be fine, but she frequently fusses and cries because she either doesn't like my response or she doesn't like what we are (or aren't) doing. Georgia is very dramatic, inquisitive and talkative, all of which combines to a lot of talking and/or complaining if things don't go as she thinks they should.

I realize many or most kids go through this phase. But it is really frustrating me right now. I want to teach her to be content in all things, and to be happy with whatever we are doing--even if we aren't doing anything. I do not want her to have to be entertained by "Going" and "Doing" all the time. I want to show her the value of quiet moments at the house, and the value of special trips out, too. As she is the oldest of three, I also cannot spend my day giving her something new to do every time she wants to know "what's going to happen next".

I would welcome any advice that you might have. I would also appreciate your prayers. I know a lot of this has to do with me, and my attitude. Please pray that it would improve, and that God would grant me grace and tolerance and affection toward Georgia during these frustrating moments. Thanks so much, my friends!

Responses from my dear friends (including a couple of POH writers:-)

Leah P:
What if you tried an "alternative" sort of answer. Instead of answering her question with, for example "we're going to go to the library, play at home, etc." you could answer her question with a character trait you will work on (i.e. "We're going to practice being a servant. Can you think of some ways we could do that?") or a family motto (i.e. "We're going to love God and love each other with all our heart"). Maybe that would take the focus away from the doing and going and put it on a heart matter.

I hope you find something that works and that God would give you the desire of your heart - to see your children well-trained to follow Him.

Lauren S:
I like Leah P.'s idea to tell Georgia you're going to work on a particular character trait. I also thought you could be very general when it comes to what you'll do at home. Sometimes, I tell our girls we're going to be diligent workers at home today. Cora may occasionally ask, "Why?", and I respond with, "Because it pleases the Lord for us to work with happy hearts and be good stewards of all that He has given us." She's a good worker and will wipe down baseboards with a wet rag if I don't find something for her to do specifically. Grumbling and complaining (whether for work at home or with any activity) is met with a quote of Phil. 2:14, and if need be, discipline.

You can also really build up the things you say about being at home. I know I breathe a big sigh of relief on days we don't have to go anywhere! You could say things like, "Isn't it so nice to just be at home? I've got more time to read books with you or cook something special, etc."

We have plenty of structured time at our house, but I think lots of free play helps too. Let Georgia entertain herself. It might be difficult for her at first, but she'll likely get used to it.

You're probably already doing these things, but I'll be praying this phase passes quickly!

Laney asks this question often as well, because she loves adventure and just want to go and "do" stuff.

A while back, I began to work on Laney with being "thankful" in all things. She used to cry and whine when we'd limit her tv shows and turn it off. We started telling her how to not look forward to the next thing, but to be thankful for the very thing she has right now, ex watching her show. It took some training and LOTS of reminding and taking away of privledges if she didn't have a thankful heart (during this "training" time), but now after watching a show, she'll turn off the tv herself, come to me and say "Mommy, I have something to tell you. Come here." She'll whisper in my ear and say "I'm thankful." Oh, how I love this. Now, she knows how to pause and be thankful for her "show" because that's what we focused on, but not necessisarily thankful for every experience, esp the more challenging or painful ones.
What if at breakfast time, you could have some "table talk" cards and make a game out of it at the start of the day, practicing what we're thankful for and you can praise the "relaxed" days during this time.

Thanks for sending this out and for the advice ladies. I plan to put some of this to action in our family as well.

I have loved all of these ideas too! We struggle with the same thing with our eldest. His line though is "Mommy, I want to do something special." And his version of "special" is rarely the same as mine :). We are training him in contentment and he's doing better with this. But, I also started making sure I had some "special" one on one time with him early in the mornings, and that also made a huge difference. He thrives on one on one time with me and Matt. He copes a lot better with a "normal" day if I take 5-10 minutes in the morning to hold him, talk to him or read him a book. Kathleen and Isaac need this as well. Karissa responds differently and is much more independent. So, I've shifted my day and breakfast is a little later so that I can spend some time talking with them in the mornings. It's definitely not been a magic cure, but it has helped!

This is Leah F. again--please be praying for me and my husband as we seek to train our children in contentment and gratitude! We'd love your thoughts and suggestions.

1 comment:

Rachael Davis said...

Sometimes I try to imagine how frustrating it might feel to be 3 or 4 or 5 and have very little say over what your life is like. (Especially if you are a first born daughter....I'm just sayin', I empathize.) To wake up each day eager to greet the day and learn the world and do something exciting, and instead of getting to do that at your own discretion, to be totally dependent on someone else's decisions. To be totally self-motivated and want to lead the charge, and to not have everyone else jump right on your bandwagon could be a maddening thing. *ahem* I mean, of course I'm NOTHING like that, I'm just imagining. *ahem*
I am CERTAIN that training our children's hearts (and our own, in the process) in gratitude is a profitable thing, but I'm just brainstorming some practical ways to approach this situation:
*Commit to a dedicated number of days that are just "plain." Maybe not always at home, but just making them routine as possible. I guess I'm reflecting back on potty training days or sleep training days, and how all of life ground to a halt until we got that thing down pat. I would say 10-14 days of the same routine, over and over.
*Put that routine up in pictoral form so she doesn't have to ask you what comes next. I'd break it down in whatever increments you think would be most helpful for her. Each hour, or each activity, or whatever. Include some choices, too. For breakfast, post 3 pictures of different things she can choose from for breakfast. After breakfast, have 2-3 choices of things she can do....you know, books, blocks, whatever. At some point in the day, have an increment that is just a picture of her. Maybe let that be "free choice" time where she gets to choose whatever she wants to do, within reason, at home or in your neighborhood, or whatever.
*If this doesn't go against your personal discipline philosophy, perhaps institute some sort of positive reward. When she does the right thing, i.e., moves cheerfully from one activity to the next without grumbling or complaining, put a marble in a jar. This lets her (and you) see the times she gets it right.

This might all be too structured for your taste.....I tend to err on that side. :) Truthfully, it's generally my practice that if there is a behavior issue that I'm not able to get a hold of and get to the heart of during the regular rhythm of our days, I kind of put a halt on everything and get back to basics. And then we stay there until we've gotten to the root of it.

Praying for you, sister! You & your sweet Georgia girl are each other's sanctification, fo sho!

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