This idea came to me from my friend Kass via my friend Lisa! Kass shared it as her #1 thing at Lisa's Live Pinterest Party. I love it.
So the idea is to teach your kids through natural consequences. If they do something and come to you and tell you about it during "free time" then their only consequences are those that would naturally happen. Free time is the time that exists between the time that they did something and the time when you find out about it.
So here's an example. Say little Johnny breaks a window in the house that no one lives in next door. He has a lot of choices especially if no one saw him do it. He could tell his parents, keep it to himself or just run and hide.
We hope that our kids would come to us and tell us right? It's a hard one because kids hesitate telling their parents things for different reasons but mainly because they are so afraid they will get in trouble. OR that their parents will get crazy mad at them taking their failure upon themselves personally and of course grounding them from their favorite thing. But, I am sure none of us has ever done that!! Especially the crazy mad part! It almost doesn't even apply to us, right?
With free time you establish with your kids that if they come to you before you get the phone call asking if you know anything about the broken window, then they will not be punished AND you will not be upset with them.
Johnny knows about free time so he is motivated to tell his Mom, and he does. As soon as he says the words, "Mom, I need some free time" she takes a deep breath and preps to hear the worst. After he gets it off his chest his Mom walks him through the natural consequences. Making the phone call, paying for the window and all the figuring out in between.
Our kids can learn so many things through natural consequences, IF WE LET THEM. Too many times the child is punished and the parent makes the call and pays for the window. Free time says, NOT YOUR DEAL! What is your deal is to be supportive to your child in helping them figure out a way to handle life. Every part.
I love this because, it encourages me to handle situations in ways where I think my kids can really learn. I also love the relationship & togetherness it encourages. I would rather my child feel bad for what he did instead of being so wrapped up in fear over how his parents will react. Many times the natural consequences are the best way to learn and as parents we often absorb those consequences for our children AND so many times it is because we don't have the time or energy it takes to put towards them really learning through the natural consequences. Absorbing them ruins our day. Helping a child learn to deal is serving them which naturally fosters more love. I think the toughest part about Free Time will be the deep breath and all the talking myself through being cool when I hear the words, "Mom, I need some free time."
Like all things parenting I hope it doesn't backfire! LOL --- we have to laugh because no matter what we do we won't do it just right! Just hoping that trying will pay off.