Rehearsing Wisdom

man watching toddler play

I rehearse situations in advance with my kids. Does that qualify me as a little batty?

Never mind. Don’t answer that.

Okay. So here’s what I do. Any time I notice that there’s an opportunity for the boys to make a bad decision, I outline briefly what the situation will be and ask them if it would be a good idea to make the wrong choice. It might go something like this:

While leaving the church building on Sunday I ask the 5 year-olds, “Would it be a good idea to run right across the street without looking both ways?”

The boys then look very serious, shake their heads and say, “Nooooooooo.”

I respond with either a compliment about how smart they are or pretend that I’m defeated in my latest attempt to fool them (which pleases them immensely).

When we first started playing the game, it was common for the boys to nod enthusiastically and tell me that they should pick the wrong choice. I would then look very serious and shake my head in an exaggerated manner and say in a friendly voice, “Nooooooo. That would be bad.”

It didn’t take long before they’d be saying, “Yesss-oh-Noooooooo” and shaking their heads at bad choices with me. Now, they’re familiar enough with the pattern to recognize that whatever I’m asking about is the bad choice and they should skip the yes and head straight for the nooooooo. They walk away from the conversation secure in the knowledge that they’re pretty smart kids who would never do [insert bad choice here].

I love that I don’t have to play broken record or be constantly controlling their every move. I get to stroke their egos, and they think they’re the ones coming up with all the good choices.

So, do you rehearse with your kids? It works pretty well with the 5 year olds. I don’t do it with the 10 year olds because they’re too old for the game the way I play it. Does anyone have a trick for rehearsing wisdom with older kids?

Originally published on GNMParents, now archived at ForeverParenting.com.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want wise children.

The editor-in-chief of Earnest Parenting, Amy is the mother of two sets of twin boys. Yes, they drive her crazy, but they also make her laugh occasionally. Amy enjoys writing, quilting, reading, and working on her burgeoning cyber empire.

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