Using the debrief, we can fuel our children’s appropriate behavioural toolkit. BRIEFness being the point… Use great questions to engage with your youngsters, and not so young young people.
Afterwards, when IT is all over, help your child process what happened by deliberately providing a framework to review their experience. After the trip to the zoo take time to discuss the animals and what actually happened (intentionally helping their vocabulary to grow), and also take time to review how they behaved. Keep it brief.
If you have read the THE SET UP you will know that we set them up for success by laying out certain expectations for the children’s behaviour in a new situation. Or we reinforce the expectations for a same-old, same-old situation where we have all become a bit sloppy and need to smarten up. In the Bible, Jesus is very intentional about how his disciples are to behave when they got out to do what he tells them to do. (Mark Chapter 6 verses 7-11). He also did the debrief when they returned. “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.” ( Mark Chapter 6, verse 30.) This must be significant because Luke records it also in Luke Chapter 9, verse 10.
In our family the debrief can be as simple as, “How did that go?” Now that our children are older there are years of training in place. We have been specific and intentional in training them in self-evaluation of behaviour. But if this idea is new to you start with a review aligned to you initial expectations… Keep it brief. Two minutes on the way home!
“I’m glad you remembered to ask nicely for the cheese/new gumboots/toy/jam at the shop. I think you listened to me carefully before we went in.”
“When you looked Granny in the eye when she was talking, did it make you feel good to know what to do?”
Middle sized kids…
“I saw you remembered to shake hands with Mr Green today. That honoured him and he looked pretty happy. How did you feel doing the right thing?”
“I noticed you forget to say ‘Thank you’ after Alice gave you a drink. How could you help yourself remember next time?”
“Tell me about how you showed obedience/kindness/goodness when we…”
“If you had the chance again, what would you do differently?”
Taller than you kids… (These questions are not my own originals and if I knew where I found them, I would tell you, but they are great.)
“How did you feel really loved today?”
“When did you feel lonely today?”
“What did I do today that made you feel appreciated?”
“What did I say today that made you feel noticed?”
“What can I do right now to assist you?”
These big, big kids need to be engaged WITH YOU. Please don’t be fobbed off with “Ok” and “Fine”. All of sudden you might realise you missed your chance. Fourteen year old boys may be excused for they may only grunt, but your other teens (and fifteen year old boys) need you to ENGAGE, ENGAGE, ENGAGE. YOU might be the only adult who cares enough to notice.