Most of the world has been operating within the realm of the same four walls for the majority of the year. Those in America have been at this at least a month, some longer.
Day after day I hear the same exhausted frustrations of parents: “My kids are driving me crazy! I keep repeating myself. I feel like all I do is nag!”
Well, you are not alone. We all get there (even in the best of circumstances). The question is do we stay there or do we something to fix it?
For my family, we do something to fix it.
Let me introduce you to one of our best friends and colleagues – Silent Butler.
Before you freak on the price tag, this friend has given his services for FREE. This is so simple it will shock you.
How many of you have asked your kid to clean their room, only to find it hasn’t been completed or everything has been shoved under the bed/in the closet/crammed into drawers?
Out of exasperation, you now beginning the powerplay of taking things away, the battle of either teaching to clean (or, be honest) doing it yourself. By the end of the day, everyone is tired, you don’t want to be around each other and you just feel defeated?
Enter Silent Butler.
Instead of going through that battle, hold your child accountable. An easy way to do that is a large plastic laundry basket (we use this one).
When your child says the room is clean. OK. Great. Go play.
Then take the basket, and fill it with all things left on the floor, under the bed, in the closet, out away incorrectly. (NOTE: You must have taught the proper way to clean a room and what Silent Butler prior is to implementing Silent Butler).
All those toys, books, TABLETS, video games, etc., that they claim to love so much, but do not treat as though they do, are now in the possession of Silent Butler.
But don’t worry, this is not forever!
When your child does something good, unexpected, helpful, you just ring the bell for Silent Butler. Things like helping a sibling with homework without being asked, picking up the dog poo or doing the dishes, (for those on the spectrum) having a good playdate or losing a game without a single reminder of good sportsmanship all can trigger Silent Butler.
The important thing is that it matches where your child is (age, mental ability) and it cannot be a chore already assigned as part of their daily routine.
When you ring that bell, Silent Butler rolls out once again. Only this time, instead of taking, our Butler is giving. The child can take one toy out of the basket. They have earned it back.
TWIST * TWIST * TWIST
For those with siblings, this becomes particularly effective. There are no rules on whose toys are picked when Silent Butler rewards.
This means if Suzy left her tablet on the floor in her room when she was told to put it away, and Johnny earned a Silent Butler reward, Johnny can pick Suzy’s tablet.
What does this teach?
I know you are wondering why use this method? It seems sneaky and rude. Well, that is true. But so is the world.
As parents, we are tasked with raising children into quality adults who contribute to society in positive ways and are aware that the world is not rainbows and butterflies.
This teaches so much:
1. Responsibility: Whose tablet? Whose responsibility? Whose homework? Whose responsibility? When you shirk your responsibilities, someone else will swoop in and fix it AND get the credit. Silent Butler begins as Positive Punishment/Negative Reinforcer.
2. Teamwork/Family building: Working in a family is the first practice of teamwork. We are teaching children what it means to be on the team by showing them responsibility falls on everyone. When we reward good extra behavior, it acts as a positive reinforcer that modifies the negative behavior. Silent Butler is now a Negative Punishment/Positive Reinforcer.
3. Integrity: What is done when no one is watching will be seen. What is done in secret will be shouted from the rooftops. All secrets come out. That is why integrity is so important. It is who you are when no one is watching (or you think no one is watching) that ultimately defines your character.
4. Accountability: Teaching accountability starts with parents. I have said this before practice what you preach. You must hold yourself accountable to follow through, kind words, and tones, working as a team. Once this is done, Silent Butler teaches that all kids are held accountable for their actions all the time. Silent Butler is ALWAYS in play. Both the good and the bad.
This is a simple idea that when put into practice can help SAVE MONEY on those reinforcers, help create a POSITIVE and HARMONIOUS environ for everyone in the house, and ultimately, help create HONEST, RESPONSIBLE adults to help create positive change in the world.
I encourage you test this out in your own homes. Give it a couple weeks. Track your progress and setbacks (there will be setbacks as with all changes). And let me know how this works for you. Don’t be afraid to share this blog with others you think might benefit from the simple induction of my friend Silent Butler.
You have this. You are good parent. You are a good teacher. You are a good coach. You are good leader.
***Disclaimer: I did not come up with this idea AT ALL. I was raised with this. The credit all goes to my parents who successfully raised 7 children and numerous “family friends” with to the sum of all six entrepreneurs, a lawyer, two opera singers, (one lawyer waiting taking his first bar), over fifteen degrees, all are fully employed, and the creation of two non-profits.