I went all Karate Kid on my kids. (I borrowed the idea from this post.)
See we started a new after school routine since we moved into our house in January. Here is how it goes:
Come in the door and drop back packs and coats by the bar
Go wash hands
Come back to the bar for after-school snack
While the kids are eating, I go through their backpacks and take out all the papers. I look at graded papers, sign permission slips, pay lunch money, read newsletters, write dates on my calendar, etc. RIGHT THEN. I recycle papers or save papers right then. NO PILES to go through later. Then I zip up their empty back packs and throw them back in the heap.
When the kids are done eating, they hop down from the bar and (theoretically) go hang up their backpack and coats.
Then they are off to play.
The new after-school routine is working quite well, except for the part about the kids hanging their coats and backpacks up on their hooks.
After 2 months of the same routine every day, with reminders all along the way, I was baffled how they were still leaving their backpacks on the floor. My older sister didn’t give me much hope when she told me that her 14 and 16 year old still leave their backpacks out despite her diligent efforts.
I knew I had to take drastic measures. So I went Karate Kid on them. You know the part where Daniel had to paint the fence up and down or the part where Dre had to hang up his coat over and over.
I made them hang up their backpacks and coats 25 times in a row. They walked from the bar to the hooks and back 25 times. I hoped that I would create some cellular memory as they retraced their steps over and over. It sounds kind of mean, but we were actually had some fun as they ran back and forth and I counted.
The next day was Friday and all the backpacks and coats were hung on the hooks without me asking. The Karate Kid method worked!
Now I wish the story ended there, but Monday came around and one child’s coat and backpack was on the floor again. So I made him hang up his backpack 25 times again. After all, Karate Kid (new version) had to hang up his coat several days in a row. Learning takes repetition.
Since then things have gotten better and sometimes I hear the kids saying “You better pick up your back pack or mom will make you do Karate Kid.”
If you want to go Karate Kid on your kids, make sure you are up to a few days of consistency and repetition and accountability in order for the task to stick. And it helps if the kids have seen the movie.