Say Goodbye to Sergeant Mom and Hello to Inspired Action

Do you feel as if you’re always ordering your children what to do always telling, telling, telling and sometimes yelling? You’re not alone. Most of us have been there and know it’s not the place we want to be as parents. The last thing you need to do is feel bad. It’s what many of us experienced as children growing up, especially if we had an authoritarian styled parent for a father, mother or both. One thing is certain, if we’re always telling our children what to do, they will never know what to do on their own.  And worse, they will pass inherit this style of parenting and teach it to their children.  If a change in parenting style isn’t made children will grow up and transition into adulthood always waiting to be told what to do next. You can see how this can have significant impact whether or not a child will achieve a successful life or plateau and life an average life of mediocrity.

“Obstacles and problems are a part of life. True happiness comes not when we get rid of all our problems, but when we change our relationship to them, when we see our problems as a potential source of awakening, opportunities to practice patience, and to learn.” –Chad Schapiro

If you have older children I’m sure you know first-hand that children don’t like to be told what to do. So let’s get you started on setting up a system that supports both the parents and children to live in harmony, be productive and happy. (Special note: As you read and apply the steps suggested here always be sure your child is safe and well taken care of. Never neglect the basic needs of the child and always take into consideration their age and ability level.)

Step 1. Pause and observe by breaking the habit of always telling the children what to do. Let go of the need to “make” them do what they “should” be doing. At first it may be difficult to step outside of your zone of what’s familiar to you. Just remember to catch yourself when you feel the urge to tell them what to do by consciously let go and just allow. Life is messy and sometimes you have to allow the home to become untidy in order for little ones to learn to appreciate tidiness. If your home is always spick and span, how can one develop an appreciation of a clean home if they don’t experience messy from time to time? Become the observer. Give yourself the time and the space to relax, enjoy and feel good about life no matter how disorderly it may be. You will learn a lot about your children as well as yourself by becoming the observer. It takes time for old habits to give way to new ones. Be forgiving and patient. As you change so will your children.

Step 2. Breathe and think rather than react.  Be the change you want to see.Children learn what they live, so when you see them doing something that you want them to correct, be sure you have corrected it in yourself first and you’re modeling to the best of your ability the good habits you want them to develop. Demonstrate how you’re taking responsibility for your own life by the choices you make. Take a “no more excuses” approach. Whenever you make a mistake don’t be afraid to talk about it with your children and share how you overcame it or corrected it. If there is something in particular you want to change together as a family, take time and discuss it as a family. Listen to the ideas your children have to share. Using their ideas can sometimes mean change happens sooner and more effectively because it comes from their perspective. This will also build their self-confidence. Be open to not having everything happen just the way you “think” it “should” happen. Trust that everything is working out for your highest good. Thank you for letting go.

Step 3. Eliminate chaos. 
It should always be of high priority to set yourself and your children up for success. Success is about environment, schedule and accountability. This means we must clear out anything that is not aligned with our values in short everything that is not serving our greater good. De-clutter your environment and your schedule. Free up space in your home so you can do what you really love. De-clutter your schedule so you’re only attending or participating in that which is aligned with your values. If need be, do a schedule total makeover by eliminating all your commitments and starting over fresh. You don’t have to go to every party, social event or even leave the house if you don’t feel like it unless it’s on your terms.  In fact, setting yourself up with more days at home gives you more power to be successful with the changes you want to make. As you get rid of old ways of doing things, be sure you have a new system to put in place. Everyone needs to have a plan in place and know what is expected of them in this new way of doing things. A well-organized plan can keep things running smooth and productively honoring everyone’s personal space.
Step 4. Share and be transparent. Be open with your family and talk about the changes you want to make. You can gauge how much you share by the ages of your children and how much they can understand. Just take one change at a time to discuss so your children are not overwhelmed with too many changes all at once. Share your vision so they can embrace it and become a part of it as well. Move from only having your own personal vision to also having a family vision. There’s power in numbers.
Step 5. Work as a team and act like a team. Our children have heard us say plenty of times, Together Everyone Achieves Miracles and many hands make work light. Ask for help. Listen to their ideas and implement as many as you can. You’ll be surprised what happens when you give up the need to be right. Your children will begin to feel heard and their genius will shine through. You’ll be wondering if aliens came and abducted your children and replaced them when look-a-likes. When they feel more involved and have a say in the way things will change then everyone takes ownership of the goal. You no longer have to push them along. As you grow together they will many times bring you a long. The energy and possibility of the whole family is limitless when you work together. Now you’re on your way to creating a true legacy.
Step 6. Be patient. When making a change working with others, patience is critical.  Your relationships are more important than the system. Keep in perspective everyone’s roles and needs as you learn and grow together. Consistent focus and action will bring you closer to your goal and this can happen really fast.
“It is important to help your children become as inner-directed as possible, and to have the courage and perseverance to resist external control in their lives.” –Dr. Wayne Dyer


About Donna Vail (63 Posts)

Donna Vail is an education-parenting specialist, coach, mompreneur, homeschooling mother of six children, author and founder of An Inspired Education. She helps families create a lifestyle of true freedom by balancing education, work and life through self-education, entrepreneurship and inspiration. She is a highly sought after consultant for her successful guidance and resources that enable parents to let go of traditional parenting and education models, creating a lifestyle of learning where the whole family flourishes. Donna consults families around the world who all repeatedly express their restored confidence in homeschooling, parenting and personal development. In 1995 when homeschooling was little known to the masses, Donna traded in her daily commute to the office, to work from home and homeschool her children. For the last 17 years, she has successfully homeschooled her children and now through her writing, speaking, workshops, special programs and private consults coaches parents around the world to success in their homeschools. Her passion for education excellence has her constantly researching and developing new ways to support and nurture children. She lives an Inspired Education with her husband and children in Plano, Texas. Connect with Donna and access her wealth of resources at her website: An Inspired Education.

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  1. 1
    Wade Balsdon says:

    Great post Donna. I home school my twins and have changed my approach along the same lines that you mention here. The results have been astounding to say the least! It feels like I have new kids.

    • 1.1
      Donna Vail says:

      Fabulous Wade! Thank you for sharing your results. How wonderful to be walking in partnership with your children.

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