Do the right thing and others will follow. That was yesterday's lesson of the day. Honestly? I was surprised to finally be uttering those words.
It has been a long and arduous process to get from 'there' to 'here'.
Daycare 2.0 has been populated with a new generation of children. The new age definition of "No" has become - "Do whatever you darn well please. The moment she turns her back".
How do you fight that? I could install video monitors around the house and simply spend my days in the kitchen watching various live surveillance footage to catch them in the act. But let's face it. There are not enough eyes in my head, nor moments in the day to continually monitor each and every move.
So I have done what I can, with what I have. I am consistent. I have the same rules and expectations for all. I am not talking about rocket science here. I am talking about not touching the computer printer or the plant. No playing in the kitchen, no wrecking the house. Just a plain and simple "NO" to some things in this world. That is all.
Months went by and there was no change for the better. More months elapsed and there was little improvement. The calendar page flipped again and I sighed out loud, "It has been seven months ... and he still doesn't listen!"
The eighth month has been a charm. It hasn't happened over night. It is not a work of perfection. But it is better. Oh-so-much-better. I see a conscience starting to develop. Starting.
Yesterday, I set my little daycare family-of-three loose in a mall. It is a mall that is almost a ghost town. A very good place to learn limits, boundaries and the fine art of behaving well.
Suddenly my two, one-year-olds darted off in two separate directions. My little 2-1/2 year old just gazed at me wondering what I was going to do.
They didn't get but a few running steps out of my reach so I herded them back together and directed their focus to a machine that was making interesting noises and had lights to attract their attention.
Success. All three were headed in the same direction.
Step two: How to make it towards an exit with one more (minor) attraction before we headed home? I insisted that each of them hold onto the stroller while we walked. This ... is where it got good.
My little 2-1/2 year old has been walking alongside the stroller all spring. She does not run ahead or lag behind. We simply walk at her pace and she willingly listens to my wishes and holds onto the stroller so that I know exactly where she is at all times.
Any time we go walking, that is our norm. Each and every person who comes walking with me latches onto the stroller so that I don't have kids running at large as we walk a car width away from moving traffic as we meander down the city sidewalks.
My two little 1-year-old rebels have seen nothing but this compliance each and every time we leave the yard. And guess what?! The moment that became their expectation, they lived up to it. There is zero tolerance when it comes to rules-of-safety in my world.
I was so very pleased with this major revelation and the best part of it all was when I told my little 2-1/2 year old, "See? They are watching YOU. They are doing what you do! You are setting a great example. You are a very good leader!"
Words of praise have very often gone awry when I talk to this little girl. I hope that there is no room for misinterpretation from yesterday's praise (she leads them astray just as easily).
Doing the right thing is always a good option. You just never know who is following your example.