I wrote last night about my recent parenting problems. I was becoming very frustrated personally (and when I get frustrated I get mean and intolerant). A couple of fairly unsuccessful outings drove home the point that I was laying a poor foundation for Kyle, so I decided to act. My copy of Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay and Charles Fay was in my reading pile. I thought that magic might be just what I needed, so I began reading it one afternoon while he was napping. I read half of the 166 pages in one sitting. I finished the other half within the next couple of days. The book is written in a light, non-judgmental tone, and yet it's still convicting and motivating. Most importantly, it's instructive. Specific ways to deal with early childhood limit-testing are not only illustrated with examples, but given as "experiments" to try out, so that parents can really practice these new techniques. I have a couple of friends who have used this logical approach to parenting, and I have learned from their example. As I read, I realized that this fits my parenting personality perfectly (that is, when I am parenting instead of taking the path of least resistance that I so often find myself on). I do enjoy empowering my children to make decisions on their own, to function independently, and to learn how to make choices. I always keep the end in mind, that my ultimate goal as a parent is for them not to need me anymore, but to flourish due to the framework that I have provided for them in their formative years. This is one of the basic principles of this parenting philosophy. So, I acknowledged that this worked for me, and I set to work at finding consistency in my discipline.
Can I say that the word "magic" in the title is not an overstatement? I feel like the parenting fairy has come and sprinkled twinkle dust all over our home. The result has been a calmer Mommy, one who can stick to her guns without getting frustrated, and more willing children. In these last couple of days, I have been giving choices. This is something that I have been comfortable doing, and have used it to diffuse my children's frustration. When Kyle hit that age when he started balking at getting into his crib, I would add a fun choice: "Do you you want to go in your bed like an airplane, or jump like a frog?" Then instead of not wanting to go to bed, he is choosing the method by which he gets into bed. Since I knew that this had a proven track record of working, I knew that if I used these options more, that I would probably get a better response from him. So, since he's still reluctant to actually sit on the potty (even though he's very successful when he does), instead of telling him he needs to go potty, I can give him a choice: "Do you want to go potty downstairs or upstairs?" Can you believe that something this simple has stopped 75% of the screaming when it's potty time?
This might sound to some as if the parent is letting the child control, but this is not the case at all. I am giving simple options that I choose, but that allow my child to feel like he is making a choice. But there are consequences. Another example is after telling a child to pick up his toys, a choice is offered. Do you want to pick them up, or shall I put them up? If the child opts not to clean up, the parent puts the toy away. For good. Until the child can earn it back somehow. A logical and immediate consequence.
I'm encouraged now, and we'll see if I'm able to do the hard work of sticking with it, all the time.
This book came from my Spring Reading Thing list: 5 down (wow--that surprised me), 5 in progress, and 6 to go. I'm doing great!
This is linked up with Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books. Click over and read some more, or add your own!