We had our usual panic one morning before school. “Where’s my canteen card? I can’t find my mobile phone!! My iPod battery is empty …..” I’m certain all those parents out there can recognize the situation – kids never put things away and then at the last minute, when it’s time to go, they can’t find anything! (Maybe it’s not just kids, but that’s a story for another time).
Anyway, after several weeks of this early morning panic, frantic running up and down the stairs, sometimes accompanied by tears, I decided to figure out a solution. Frontal lobotomy came quickly to mind, but too messy. I was looking for an elegant solution that was more about a change in thinking than a set of punitive consequences or another of “Dad’s rules”. Then I remembered the story of the “Good Habit Rabbit”.
Once upon a time there was a colony of rabbits who had dug their dens in an open meadow, where they could easily forage for tender young grasses. During the early morning and evening hours all the rabbits would be out feeding. This wasalso the meal time for Mr. Fox as well, who loved tender young rabbits.
While most of the young rabbits were eagerly eating and playing, one very peculiar young rabbit would spend a few moments eating, then quickly dart back to his hole, only to come out again, go to another part of the meadow, begin eating, then dart back to his hole again. This went on at each feeding time.
All the other young rabbits thought he was stupid to be wasting so much time running around back and forth when he should be eating and playing with the others. His reason for this “unreasonable” behaviour when asked was: “I know Mr. Fox is out there somewhere and if and when an attack comes I want to have my escape route so well memorized that I can quickly get back to my den from anywhere in the meadow without really thinking about it. It will be easy, just like a habit.”
The other young rabbits laughed at all this wasted time building a silly habit, until one day, several foxes attacked at once. There was instant pandemonium with little rabbits rushing too and fro squealing and frantically trying to find the safety of their dens. The “Good Habit Rabbit” was one of the few survivors that day!
So, at dinner one evening I told the story of the Good Habit Rabbit, then we talked about a single place for her mobile phone, her canteen card and her iPod. We set up a special area in her room for these where they were to be put first thing when she came home from school. To make it a little more fun, we even had a practice “emergency drill” the next morning to see how fast she could find these three objects. It worked. We are now working on building a “Good Habit Rabbit” set of behaviours for other things as well.
By the way, it’s also a good management and leadership technique for being effective and efficient during those days that are packed with meetings and other executive duties. Think about the value of becoming a “Good Habit Rabbit”!
Some of mine are: summarizing my notes at the end of every meeting rather than relying on my memory (after a full day of back to back meetings I can’t keep all the details or my agreements straight), keeping a daily log of things I learned or need to think more about, and even some simple ones like a specific place in my briefcase for Passport, car keys, wallet, security card, etc. Just a set of good habits to make life run a little smoother.
Tight Lines . . .