Saturday, January 28, 2012

Parenting Tip - Use a checklist

It's been a week since I informed my daughters that I quit. You can read that story here at ParentSociety, where I contribute. The short story is after too many days of fussing and fighting and running late, I quit participating in my children's fits and fights.

I should have done this long ago, but I'm an interventionist. Always trying to use tense moments between my children for teaching. One might also say I am a control freak. Yes, after nearly 7 years of parenting, I have finally admitted to myself that I have control issues. I'm working on it with a little help from great Law of Attraction teachers like Joe Vitale and Michael Beckwith and one who specializes in children and parents, Denny Hagel (I'll be reviewing one of her books within the next couple of weeks, so watch for it).

Since last weekend, instead of telling my girls that it's time to get ready and telling them what to do and having to repeat myself numerous times, I have instead given them a checklist. They are 5 and 6 and both reading at about a middle first grade level. Each morning and each evening, I simply hand them their checklists. I am learning that slight variations in my wording can have a great impact on their behavior.

For instance, most checklists read something like this:

1. Brush teeth
2. Get dressed - long sleeve shirt, jeans, socks
3. Brush hair

We leave at 8:40AM.

I tell them the current time when I hand it to them and then they refer to the digital clock in the kitchen and in the bedroom they share. When I write the checklist like that, they do the necessary without me having to remind them of anything. They just go and do it. I'm still in awe of this change of routine for us. I love it!

However, when I make just a minor change in my wording and write,

"By 8:40AM"

something interesting happens. They do not respond as well. I have to remind them. A simple change of one word causes a certain change in their response. Instead of being informed, they are being directed. They don't like being directed. Neither do I, so I get it and will adjust accordingly henceforth!

You can try a checklist even if your kids aren't readers yet! Just draw a picture of a toothbrush, pajamas and a bed. Keep it to 3 items, or your little one will feel overwhelmed and the checklist will quickly turn to scrap paper. Depending on their age, you may still need to help with one or more of the items, but your little kid will feel like a big kid when you hand over responsibility. You'll feel good, too, because you're no longer the one who has to do it all.

Have you tried checklists? How have they worked for you? What behavioral changes have you noticed and how have you tweaked the checklist to make it a more effective parenting tool?


  1. I seriously love this idea and must give it a try with my almost 5 year old. I think this list idea has the potential to make my life a lot easier! LOL

    P.S. Thanks for stopping by and linking up to the GTKY blog hop! :)

    1. That's a good age for it! You're welcome!

  2. Happy to be your 410th follower from the Lovin' This blog hop. Can't wait to come back and visit. We love the thinking behind your blog. Checklist and choices are both wonderful ideas for your little ones. I'm lost without my to do list... ;)

    We think you'd love See Beautiful if you'd like to come play too.

    1. I'll be popping by shortly, then! Thanks for following!

  3. Very clever! I may try this tomorrow!


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