What to Do When You're Not Able to Follow Through

Last week I was in a session with a fabulous six-year-old. He is chatty and if it was up to him, he would spend our whole session telling me stories about outer space! While I would love to listen to all the details of interplanetary travel, the priority of my time with him and his family lies in other areas.

When I first arrived, the family and I sat down to make a plan: What hard things will we do and what easy/fun things will we do? We made a list of six things total, three hard and three easy. For a three-hour session, this was completely doable...or so we thought! 

Two-and-a-half hours later we were only on number three! This meant one of two things:

1. We rush through everything to accomplish what is on our list.                                                    


2. Admit that we could not mean what we said and amend the list.

The last thing on the list was his all-time favorite activity, playing with LEGO blocks! If that activity was skipped, then I knew problem behavior would shortly follow.

Sound familiar? Have you ever been in a situation where you simply could not keep your word and it might mean serious consequences?

No matter how many times youve listened to my blogs, audios and videos about how important it is to mean what you say, there will be times that it cant happen. So, the offender needs to decide between option one (rush and get it done) and option two (admit that there was an oversight and adjust the plan).

Also ask yourself: When was the last time this happened?

If Ive needed to modify our session plan several times, especially in the recent past, then I know that in the future I should modify my behavior and language to be more precise. Then I would rush through the list and make sure I got it all in, because I want to show that my word is good and Ill do anything I can to make that happen. Get conviction and find a way to keep your word even if it feels impossible, because, trust me, its not.

On the other hand, if this is truly an exception and weve been keeping to the session plan (Ive been meaning what I said), then I would go with option two and simply adjust the list.

In this case, I paused what we wereplaying and announced that we needed to revisit the list to change our plan, explaining that I miscalculated the time. Together we made the decision of what would be cut from the list, but I took FULL responsibility for this change. We then went back to the third activity to finish it up, before getting to that one last item to wrap our session.

Did you notice that I didn't pretend that we made it through everything or try to avoid going back to the list? I fully faced the challenge and discussed it with this small being. Talking about this change helps teach small beings that when you arent able to mean what you say, you should own up to it. It helps maintain their trust in your word.

So while it should not happen often, when you find yourself not able to follow through on what you said, evaluate the situation and make an adjustment as needed. (Tweet)

Ideas into Action!

When was the last time you had trouble meaning what you said? How did it go?

Then let me know how it goes. Leave your feedback, experience and thoughts in the comment section below this post or email directly info@BehaviorAndBeyond.net with your behavior insights!

With a little help we can all grow. Keep checking in weekly for more parenting insights at Behavior + Beyond. For personal insights that I only share with my email list, please join my confidential email list below.