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Do you tell your kids or let them figure it out for themselves?


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Dd is at that point of needing to shower daily. (does a bath every other day now) Dh and I discussed it and decided that we'll do our family bed time routine in the boys room, say all our good nights, and then she'll head downstairs to shower and tuck herself in. We will also let her wind down and read for 20 min before lights out as a nice little privilege to match the new responsibility.

 

When we discuss it with her, do we spell it out for her? "We expect you to stick with the 20 mins, not get up and play, not come looking for more snacks or asking for more reading time. You're getting more control here if you handle it well. Otherwise, we take the control back." Not in those exact words, obviously.

 

Or do we let her figure out that lesson on her own? I remember my parents giving me more chores and when I asked to go into the city with a friend and her mom and not be back til 10:30, I about fell over when they said yes! I think I figured it out at that moment. Like, "wow, okay. This is worth doing a good job on the dishes and bathroom cleaning." But I was older. 12/13. I don't remember from 8 and in my mind it seems like an 8 year old still needs it spelled out for them. But I don't want to show our hand, so to speak, if there's a good reason not to. Am I missing something?

 

Signed,

Reluctant noob pre-preteen parent

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She's 8. Spell it out. Set her up for success so she can connect the dots that being responsible = more privileges. Otherwise, it will seem arbitrary if she does/doesn't get those extra privileges.

 

Heck, I've just now needed to stop spelling it out with the 13 year old!  :)

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I found that giving my kids control over their bedtimes around age 6 worked very well.

I made clear after what time *I* was no longer available for requests; we were done with all read alouds and tucking in by 8pm. After this time, they had to be in their rooms and quiet enough not to disturb any sleepers in the house. What they did and how long they stayed up, was up to them. They quickly learned that, if they stayed up too late reading, they would be tired the next day - we still had the regular getting up time that was non-negotiable. They both learned to self regulate. Turning control over to them removed all mystique from the evening hours; there was nothing special about staying up late, and nothing exciting happened. I preferred not to make this a battle.

 

ETA: I am confused about you mentioning "privileges" and "responsibilities". Is the responsibility that she has to shower? And is reading for 20 minutes a privilege? Tis-for-tat never worked with my kids.

Edited by regentrude
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Spell it out. I also wouldn't put an 8 year old in charge of tucking herself in on a regular basis. Reading isn't a reward here, and mine have generally just read until they fell asleep. If there's a strict bedtime, you can tell her that she has 30 minutes to shower and brush her teeth and read, so the more quickly she completes her hygiene, the more time she has to read. BUT--many children will skimp on the hygiene in that scenario. We have to supervise more closely (and check that teeth and baths were done, not just heads stuck under the water) past 8. It also depends on the temperament of the child, ADHD, anxiety, etc. 

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FWIW, IMO, while there is a lot of variability, 8 is not what I'd call pre-teen in terms of maturity (ETA, using that term loosely LOL).  In my house, that would be nowhere close, even for my more mature ones.  You need to spell out the rules/expectations/lessons.

Edited by wapiti
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We tell our kids our expectations, and try to set them up for success. Not making the rules clear, but having a consequence in place for when they mess up (because they don't understand out expectations) feels like setting them up for us to pounce on them. It's not how we work, in our family. I want to build trust and respect, and teach them about communication, so I try to model it. They still make mistakes, but when they do - they know it, and aren't surprised by it, if that makes sense.

 

So - I'd be clear about your thoughts, expectations, plans, consequences, whatever.

 

I still tuck my kids in though, so YMMV. In fact, even when 24 yr old sleeps over, I make a last round and check in on him.

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ETA: I am confused about you mentioning "privileges" and "responsibilities". Is the responsibility that she has to shower? And is reading for 20 minutes a privilege? Tis-for-tat never worked with my kids.

Not exactly tis for tat. She's also getting her own room after sharing with her little brother for 3 years. We've chosen a new lamp. And we are making a bean bag chair together and I'm making her a new quilt for her bed. She is very excited about all of this.

 

And its more like all the stuff around the shower is the responsibility. Make sure there's a towel right outside the shower door, rinse your hair thoroughly, leave the bathroom tidy. I dunno, maybe I'm not seeing that right.

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Not exactly tis for tat. She's also getting her own room after sharing with her little brother for 3 years. We've chosen a new lamp. And we are making a bean bag chair together and I'm making her a new quilt for her bed. She is very excited about all of this.

 

And its more like all the stuff around the shower is the responsibility. Make sure there's a towel right outside the shower door, rinse your hair thoroughly, leave the bathroom tidy. I dunno, maybe I'm not seeing that right.

 

I don't see what any of this has to do with regulating her sleeping time.

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Are you sure you don't want to tuck her in? I still tuck in my 11 and 13 year old. Just don't tell the 13 yo's friends. :).

 

I think 8 is still a little girl. I would spell it out clearly. In my mind, pre-teen starts at 11. She's still got 3 years left of being a little girl.

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Yes! See, this communication stuff is new to me! Obviously, from my personal example communication was not big in my family when I was growing up. Wasn't for my husband either. And guess what? As teens and now as adults there's still not much communication going on with our parents. We've never confided in our parents or sought their advice when we were at a big decision or crossroads. I don't want our relationship to be like that with our kids. But that pattern of non communication is so hard to overcome. It never would have occurred to me that we were "setting her up" as pp said.

 

Oh boy, I need help!

 

And yes, not preteen yet but pre- preteen! :)

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I really wish my parents had spelled things out for me. They'd expect me to figure them out and then get pissed off when I didn't figure them out. I love my mom but I really still disagree with her on this. 

 

If she doesn't figure it out quickly, I think it's really worth explaining your expectations. 

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I don't see what any of this has to do with regulating her sleeping time.

I never thought it was either. Just a new routine that involves more work for her. But there's other changes too that she is excited about that kind of fit together because I probably wouldn't be able to let her stay up and read with her 4 yo brother in the room. He still needs lights out by 8. I was just explaining that it wasn't tis for tat.

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Those are hard (but not too hard) responsibilities for an 8-year-old-when-sleepy. Therefore I would not only spell it out, but provide supportive supervision. When we went to an 'evening quiet time' model like this (not with the shower, but with the wind-down reading) she knew that 'quiet time' (something we already did) meant not trying to interact with others, but only reading, writing, colouring, paper crafts, puzzles or similar activities -- alone. We also had to spell out cases when she *could* get an adult (nosebleed, headache, accidental mess, silent extra hug) and, literally, hundreds of other details. It was amazing how detailed and precise my expectations were once I went to the trouble to explain them!

 

Plus I had to explain the purpose of winding down (not playing) and getting sleepy of her own free will, and the mechanics of sleep, and the way that you want to co-operate with your sleepy sensations or they retreat away... Tons of stuff, over and over again.

 

I also added my helpful self to this to come and blow her an extra kiss and let her know when her time was up. It's so easy to loose track of time when you are sleepy.

 

If you add shower to that, I think you need to start with walk thrus, then move to a checklist with you visiting to check what is done/undone, then move to spot checks -- all before you move to spot checks with consiquences. Build the skill before you expect the skill.

 

She may be happy and enthusiastic, but she won't grow these new skills and capacities for 'self management while sleepy' overnight. All new skills need scaffolding.

 

If the new skills 'don't take' in a reasonable amount of time, withdraw the new privlige-plus-expectations without blaming her for not being up for it yet. It's not a consiquence (on her) it's aknowkedgement that you slightly misjudged her skill level, and will try again soon.

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When I say tuck herself in, I just mean in bed, winding down and reading. I'll still come in and check on her, "tuck her in" and say goodnight one more time. I am actually hoping that with her having her own room, this might be a time when she feels free to open up and talk about things that might be on her mind.

 

And again, when I say pre-preteen, I just mean we are seeing the need for a few changes but yes, I definitely still consider her a little girl. She still plays with toys (not as much as she used to) needs random hugs and snuggles through the day and is very innocent about a lot of things. I'm not trying to grow her up too fast. Quite the opposite, actually. All of her 8 year old friends already have a similar routine and one of their moms was shocked when I said dd still played with dolls. So in our circles, she's a little behind, which is fine with me. But she does need to shower daily at this point. Trust me. :)

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Awe, she's still so little. I would help her and let her be little a bit longer. I wish my girls were still that young.

 

I would still tuck my girls in at that age, and even wash and blow dry their hair for them. I'm a softy.

Edited by Peacefulisle
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Yes! See, this communication stuff is new to me! Obviously, from my personal example communication was not big in my family when I was growing up. Wasn't for my husband either. And guess what? As teens and now as adults there's still not much communication going on with our parents. We've never confided in our parents or sought their advice when we were at a big decision or crossroads. I don't want our relationship to be like that with our kids. But that pattern of non communication is so hard to overcome. It never would have occurred to me that we were "setting her up" as pp said.

 

Oh boy, I need help!

 

And yes, not preteen yet but pre- preteen! :)

 

I struggle with this, too.  Same sort of non-communicative FOO.  It's a daily practice, to communicate, and it does get easier - still, I am mindful of it, because I want to create a different relationship with my kids, than the one I had in my FOO.   

 

You can do this!

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Those are hard (but not too hard) responsibilities for an 8-year-old-when-sleepy. Therefore I would not only spell it out, but provide supportive supervision. When we went to an 'evening quiet time' model like this (not with the shower, but with the wind-down reading) she knew that 'quiet time' (something we already did) meant not trying to interact with others, but only reading, writing, colouring, paper crafts, puzzles or similar activities -- alone. We also had to spell out cases when she *could* get an adult (nosebleed, headache, accidental mess, silent extra hug) and, literally, hundreds of other details. It was amazing how detailed and precise my expectations were once I went to the trouble to explain them!

 

Plus I had to explain the purpose of winding down (not playing) and getting sleepy of her own free will, and the mechanics of sleep, and the way that you want to co-operate with your sleepy sensations or they retreat away... Tons of stuff, over and over again.

 

I also added my helpful self to this to come and blow her an extra kiss and let her know when her time was up. It's so easy to loose track of time when you are sleepy.

 

If you add shower to that, I think you need to start with walk thrus, then move to a checklist with you visiting to check what is done/undone, then move to spot checks -- all before you move to spot checks with consiquences. Build the skill before you expect the skill.

 

She may be happy and enthusiastic, but she won't grow these new skills and capacities for 'self management while sleepy' overnight. All new skills need scaffolding.

 

If the new skills 'don't take' in a reasonable amount of time, withdraw the new privlige-plus-expectations without blaming her for not being up for it yet. It's not a consiquence (on her) it's aknowkedgement that you slightly misjudged her skill level, and will try again soon.

I like this step by step and definitely expect a learning curve. I check on the kids before I go to bed about 9:45 and she's often still awake. So I think she can handle it. I guess it doesn't have to be reading but bedrooms here are just beds and dressers. Puzzles, crafts, etc. are all in the hall closet and done at the kitchen table. I guess maybe I could give her a bin of things like that for her room?

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I struggle with this, too. Same sort of non-communicative FOO. It's a daily practice, to communicate, and it does get easier - still, I am mindful of it, because I want to create a different relationship with my kids, than the one I had in my FOO.

 

You can do this!

Is there a book for people like us??? Lol

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Is there a book for people like us??? Lol

Definitely! I'm sure there are lots of them. How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, and Listen so Kids will Talk comes to mind ... :)

 

I bet there are tons of them. S/O thread?

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She's 8?  Lol, my 11 year old doesn't put himself to bed. He still need a story from daddy and a (quick) snuggle.

 

But if you need to have her take on that responsibility, and I can see how that can be the case, I would be very, very patient and have very, very low expectations.

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And as for your thread title... tell your children what you expect, what the rules are, and explain why. 

There's no reason to make them guess all this stuff out, esp if you're a parent who gets irritated or frustrated. If you're super calm and mellow and willing to just go with the flow and let the kids figure things out, then yeah. But you'd have to be super patient because odds are they won't do it the way you expected or they won't figure it out for months or years, or they'll just come up with some completely different plan. It's a way of parenting in some families but you have to be clear then in your mind that you're ok with a very meandering path and have low expectations about results and how they're achieved. 

 

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Walk her through everything and talk to her until she doesn't need the help. "Honey, after you shower be sure to hang up the towel so it can dry.." "Did you hang up your towel, dear?"

etc.

 

ETA:

My kids put themselves to bed, but I can't get a one of them to hang a towel!

Edited by MomatHWTK
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When I say tuck herself in, I just mean in bed, winding down and reading. I'll still come in and check on her, "tuck her in" and say goodnight one more time. I am actually hoping that with her having her own room, this might be a time when she feels free to open up and talk about things that might be on her mind.

 

And again, when I say pre-preteen, I just mean we are seeing the need for a few changes but yes, I definitely still consider her a little girl. She still plays with toys (not as much as she used to) needs random hugs and snuggles through the day and is very innocent about a lot of things. I'm not trying to grow her up too fast. Quite the opposite, actually. All of her 8 year old friends already have a similar routine and one of their moms was shocked when I said dd still played with dolls. So in our circles, she's a little behind, which is fine with me. But she does need to shower daily at this point. Trust me. :)

 

I think this sounds like the perfect thing for an 8 year old.  I agree with all of the others--be clear about your expectations regarding her responsibilities with her showering routine.  I would add that this is probably the time for her to learn about deodorant and to start using it, if she doesn't already.  I can tell you that it is better to start earlier than later.... :laugh:

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Just be honest with her and tell her everything with full disclosure of your goals and privileges for her. An 8yo is still a young child and not a preteen (preteen is 11-12 in my book).  She will likely still need lots of support to accomplish her goals. Some kids are great at independence. Other kids feel abandoned, and may feel like the parent doesn't care about them any more. It is a slippery slope, so I would just tell her what your plans are and let her know she can still get tuck ins and extra hugs if she wants to.  

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My son has ADHD and I've been reading a lot of books to help him stay focused and able to get tasks done completely and thoroughly.

 

The books often suggest putting everything that needs to be done on a checklist and then going over it with the child for many many nights (days) in a row. Like for weeks in a row.

 

After a few weeks, you just say, "Did you look at your checklist?" If they forget to do something. And after a few weeks of that (or months), then the child will finally start to do all the tasks on his/her own or check the list on his/her own.

 

The books also suggest a little reward system. The child can build up points to something. You start small: did you do every item on the check list with only 2 reminders from mom? Then ..with only 1 reminder from mom? Then..with no reminders from mom?

 

Your daughter might not need this, but it's something that lots of kids do.

 

So, most certainly tell her what you expect. Write it out for her to see what you expect. Then walk through with her for a week or more what you expect. Then for a few weeks check up on her and remind her of what you expect. Etc.

 

It's a really long process but often necessary. Some kids will do this stuff quickly and "right" pretty soon, but others need a lot of help.

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I'd just add the shower and skip all the rest. It's not really an achievement that deserves a reward. I'm all for not adding layers of complication unless it's absolutely necessary. Since she HAS this routine on other nights, it might not be that big of a deal to her.

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Wet hair: nothing. She sprays detangler on it in the morning and brushes it. She does her own headbands and ponytails. If she wants braids, she asks me for it.

 

As for thread title, yes now I see how that sounds like I throw my kids to the wolves. Lol! I promise I don't. We talk. A lot. We don't make them guess what we are thinking and we do take big things one step at a time. I think this is throwing me because I didn't really expect these kinds of changes to start at 8 so now I'm doubting myself.

 

With regard to communication. I'm not going to force anything. I'm curious to see if she might open up more. We do talk naturally all throughout the day about all kinds of things. But I do feel like I do most of the talking when it comes to matters of the heart. She gets distracted by her brother wanting to play or the baby squeals and interrupts her train of thought. A quiet time when the boys aren't around might be something she'd like like to take advantage of. Maybe not, and if not we'll figure something else out and just keep encouraging her to talk with us.

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I would talk about it and also ask her. Is this even what she is interested in? Does she still want you to come down and tuck her in?

 

My 11-year-old son just last month moved into the basement. We thought he would 2-3 years ago, but he picked to stay upstairs and share a room. Then this year he did want it.

 

I think, think about what your parameters are. Then let your daughter ask or request things within the parameters. Discuss it.

 

I think realizing things and having them really click is important for kids. But we can talk about things too, not just expose and wait for the click. Especially while they are little kids!

 

Eight is still little to me, too.

 

I don't choose to give my kids no bedtime. I think that is a fine choice, but I don't think I am setting them up for failure by not choosing that way.

 

But I am open to it if it is wanted.

 

So far my oldest is one who wants to talk a lot at bedtime. Then I have a younger child who is naturally very independent and likes to be independent. Then I have a younger child who is pretty flexible at night and probably anything would be fine with him.

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My 9yos would not like it if I stopped tucking them in.  :)

 

I would spell out key tasks of the bedtime routine for an 8yo.  Go shower at X:XX, sleep by X:YY and reading is allowed between those two tasks.

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I have no idea how anyone could expect an 8 year old to intuit your expectations without telling her.  It seems like an easy way to slide into a disrespectful and resentful relationship, and I would never want to do that with a little girl.

 

I don't put up with it when DH expects me to read his mind without telling me what he wants though either, so take that for what it's worth.

 

I would not only tell her what I expect, I'd make a checklist.  The same way I would for a new employee who had a new set of expectations.

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A lot depends on your child and household. If you generally run a " tight ship" I'd spell it out. If you're not going to check or mind when she goes to bed I'd explain once and let her go. Our expectations were far different when my olders were 8 and I worked and we needed to be up at 6 as opposed to the current 8 yo who only needs to be up at 8 a couple days a week. She goes to bed on her own time frame. I fall asleep far earlier than my kids. My particular 8 yo has been doing all the hair,shower stuff for a couple years. She doesn't need oversight. Some of my boys would have whispered the word soap and considered themselves done. I also have kids who self-regulated and others who at 8 were pretty emotionally young. It really depends on your kid. Is it really a big deal if she did go play? Just tell her to knock it off and go to bed. Problem solved

Edited by joyofsix
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+1 (1000) for Hold Onto Your Kids.

 

It is absolutely the best.

 

There also like general outlines of what you can reasonably expect from most 8 year olds. There are ones like for doctors, and also waldorfy ones. Grain of salt on both counts, but when youre getting a little dizzy, so to speak, trying to catch your feet it can reassurring to eyeball them!

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I don't expect my kids to figure out anything I don't think.  Honestly, even with teens I lay out my expectations.  What usually follows is that they still mess up and have to deal with whatever consequences result.  Only then do they seem to truly "get it".  So our house has a lot of both going on.  But my kids might just need to learn everything for themselves!!  

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