One of my simplest behavior management tricks is to count backwards.
Sifu Chris Heinztman and Sifu David Chin came to Maine to teach us how to properly do Lion Dance. While they were here, we took everyone attending the workshop to Quaker Ridge. It is a beautiful local spot from which you can see the White Mountains in New Hampshire on one side and Lake Sebago in Maine on the other.
The kids bounded out of the cars and took off. They ran so fast that in a very short time the topped the hill and were getting out of sight going down the other side.
I yelled out, “10,” and they stopped.
“9,” they turned around.
“8, 7, 6,” they were hauling it back to us.
“5, 4, 3, 2, 1,” they could see me and I could see them.
“1, 2, 3,” here they come.
“4, 5, 6,” close, but not close enough.
“7, 8,” they arrived.
“8. You owe me 8 push ups.”
They dropped and paid their debt.
Chris turned to me and said, “That was awesome. Can I steal that?”
“Absolutely, it is one of my best.” I told him.
The expectation is clear; get here by the time I get to 1. The punishment is immediate and predictable, and hey, push ups make you stronger.
A mom turned to me once and said, “I always count forward.”
I remember thinking, and it is probable that I said it our loud, “Why? Why would you count up when there is no end in sight?” Going up the number scale is just measuring how long kids are ignoring your command.
Usually I use 5 seconds. My kids were in a play area, crawling through tubes and laughing down the slides. When it was time to go I caught my daughter’s eye and held up my hand with fingers spread wide. When I reduced the fingers from 5 to four she called to her brother and they skidded to the closest slide. They were both by my side and ready to go almost instantaneously. A mom a few feet away nodded her head to me and said, “Nice job Mom.”
I replied, “Thanks. We do Karate.”
I am thankful everyday that my kids have been raised in the dojo. I am also thankful that the dojo raised me to be a better parent.