ONE Tool WE Have and THEY Don't. . . . USE IT!


The pre-frontal cortex, sigh. . . .this sucker is truly the most underused of the Underused Parenting Tools! It’s a shame too, because it’s one tool we have that our kids do not have. Our pre-frontal cortex is fully developed at 25, so most of us have had a full decade or more of this sublime, nimble, amazing tool.  What does it do, you ask? 

Differentiate among conflicting thoughts: I really want to shriek to my four year old, “Seriously, put your shoes on, it’s not that HHHHhaaaaarrrddd". I also want to act encouragingly and I suspect simply escorting the four year old to the shoes is going to be more effective, encouraging, and relationship-building then the shrieking.

Determine good and bad, better and best: Getting up at 7 am, or 15 minutes before everyone else is good. Getting up at 7:30, or 15 minutes after everyone else is bad. Getting up 6:50 and having my coffee is better. Getting up at 6:30, having my coffee, doing 10 minutes of yoga stretches, and getting dressed BEFORE anyone else wakes is best. 

Determine future consequences of current activities: If I nag, nag, and nag – child will only do things when I nag. When I shut the old trap I see what the child does and can start working towards improvement.

Working toward a defined goal: I would like each person in our family to get up on their own, take responsibility for self, and leave the house with maximum of goodwill and minimum of tension. This week I will wake up 15 minutes before everyone and have my coffee. In two weeks I will wake up 20 minutes before everyone and have my coffee and do 10 minutes of yoga stretches. In 3 weeks we will begin training on laying out clothes the night before – etc. In a couple months, our defined goal of leaving the house on time with each person responsible for themselves and enjoying maximum goodwill is happening. Not every day – because family is family and we can’t expect miracles!

Prediction of outcomes: I can predict my two year old can’t tolerate the grocery after daycare. I can predict that I am not a good "trainer" first thing in the morning when I am groggy. I can predict that my tardy spouse will be late to the soccer game. I can predict that the teen will roll his eyes at the curfew time. Re-read The Only Shocking Thing for down and dirty tips on outcomes you can predict by age group.

 Social "control" (the ability to suppress urges that, if not suppressed, could lead to socially unacceptable outcomes): Pass by the Ben’n’Jerry’s, want it passionately, do not buy it because you know you can’t stop at one bite or one bowl. Feel really, really angry at your spouse at a dinner party – want to pinch his head off. Suppress (NOT repress) the urge to pinch head off in the moment, discuss spousal infraction in the car. Talk calmly to child who is screaming at you (resisting the urge to scream at child to stop screaming at you in front of every gosh durn person at the park!). 

For more ideas, CEO in da House illustrates some nifty ways you can expect your own CEO to support and talk to you.