Sunday, April 22, 2012

Follow Through

Follow through is a Positive Discipline tool that comes naturally for me for two reasons. The first reason is because my parentsmy mom especially led by example. I always knew that if my Mom said itshe meant it! It wasn’t even worth the argument. I believe that as annoyed or frustrated as I was as a kid, I always respected her and knew that what she said she meant. I remember learning this tool at an early age and being able to recite, as she would say it to the many parents in a lecture or in her books,, “If you mean it, say it, and then follow through!”

The second reason I’ve been able to model this tool for my kids is because I heard my mom say, “The tongue in the shoe, is louder than the tongue in the mouth.” In other words, actions speak louder than words.

The most difficult time for me to practice this tool was when my children were around the age of two and it was their daily job to test me. I knew it was important to not make threats I couldn’t keep and more importantlyto follow through on whatever threat I made. I referred this stage as my “mean mommy stage.” My mom simply reminded me that it was my “firm mommy stage.”

It’s often forgotten that Positive Discipline is both Kind and Firm. I am the first one to admit that I am usually too kind until I get completely fed up and flip my lid and then I become this really “firm” mommy. The best part of this “mean mommy stage” was that it didn’t take my kids very long to know, that mommy meant business. And 99% of the time I followed through with what I said I would do.

Here we are over 3-years later and I am still following through. For example this week, my oldest son had a major meltdown at bedtime. It was my fault because I let him stay up later than his bedtime (with no nap) to watch a movie that he had recorded the night before. Well when the movie was finally over, he went ballistic like a crazy man when it was time to brush his teeth and put on pajamas. (He started acting like the character in Shark Boy).  The more out of control he got, the more out of control I felt. I “told” him (first PD mess up) if you can’t calm down and get control of your body, I will delete your movie and you won’t watch any TV in the morning. Sure enough he acted more hysterical and in my flipped lid state I marched downstairs and deleted his movie. Naturally this just made the situation worse, but I was so concerned about following through with my threat I didn’t focus on actually helping him calm down. After I waked away and went into my own time out and calmed down, we were able to reconnect give apologies for our behavior and finally go to bed.

The next morning he came downstairs and gave me another big hug and said how sorry he was for the night before. I too apologized and explained that I was equally tired and was acting out of control. Unfortunately it was too late and his movie had already been deleted. Even though I don’t regret deleting the movie, I regretted how, and when I did it. I also made sure to follow though on the rest of my threat and made sure there was no TV in the morning. I needed to kindly remind him why. He wasn’t happy with that decision, but we were able to turn it around with the fun and active morning we had together. Moral of this story, is don’t make threats you can’t keep. Especially because a lot of the threats we make as parents, usually aren’t convenient for us.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Limit Screen Time

Thank goodness the Limited Screen Time tool card wasn’t two weeks ago during my boys Spring Break. I’m sure there are plenty of parents out there that can say “holy cow—that was a long week.”  Recently I watched one of Oprah’s Next Chapter episodes where she did an interview with a group of Aventist Jewish women.  One of the most interesting parts of the interview was when the women shared that there is no media, or any technology for that matter, in their homes. None of these women had ever seen the Oprah show—that in it-self was for me the most shocking. They went on to say that their children had never watched television before. Once again I was both shocked and fascinated at the same time. At that moment I took it upon myself to challenge my children and me to go without TV for one day.

The next day happened to be on a Tuesday when my oldest son is in school until 3:00 and my 3 ½-year old is home with me all day. My youngest son wasn’t fazed for a moment. He never noticed or cared. He’s always been easily entertained and completely self-sufficient. My oldest son on the other hand noticed five minutes after he walked in the door. His favorite thing to do after being at school all day is watching a show. I totally get it! After I’ve had a long day—especially after school or learning, I too just want to check out/tune out. I also feel more entitled and deserving of the reward of TV. Even though he was feeling angry, resentful, and didn’t understand it, I know he appreciated the quality time we spent together.  It wasn’t until this day that I was reminded how much I depend on the TV to stimulate my children and therefore buy me some time to clean the house, do laundry, or have some computer time. I’m guilty of using the TV as my babysitter. Although I’ve always been mindful and very aware that TV isn’t good for kids, I would find myself justifying that the program they were watching was educational or that it was only for an hour.   That TV-less Tuesday was an instant reminder that no T.V. meant stimulation from me. If I did attempt to leave the room as they played—I found that I was playing referee only minute’s later…ughhh!!! I thought several times to myself that day—at least they’re quiet and not fighting when the TV’s on. Bottom line—TV buys us time, which as parent’s, let’s face it, we all need!

My experience from that Tuesday was that my boys and I had a fun day, but at the end of the day we were all exhausted because of non-stop interaction. Although it forced us to be creative, it also made me grateful that I wasn’t completely opposed to TV. I’ve always believed that most things should be enjoyed with moderation.  I was reminded that “limited screen time” is good for everyone. We spent more active and quality time together. To me "limited" means balanced instead of abstinence. I love having some time to myself while TV entertains the kids. I just have to remember to balance that time with plenty of active together time.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Problem Solving

Mary Nelsen Tamborski

If there's anything I've learned--it's that you/we cannot problem solve during our "flipped lid state”. My family and I have been reminded that when we are in our "reptilian brain" there's no rational thinking taking place. I've been role modeling this for my children by demonstrating that I need to cool off and take my "time out." I need to calm down, which gives them time too. It's after this cooling down time that we are able problem solve, find solutions, brainstorm ideas, and role-play.

Yesterday I received a last minute invitation from a brave neighbor and super-dad to take both my boys for an evening play-date. My first instinct, of course, was to say, "Absolutely yes!” But then I started feeling hesitant about how they might behave. My youngest son’s favorite word is "stupid" (that's a whole other story). Coincidently he seemed to being saying it extra that day.  Also, they seemed to be fighting more than usual; and not listening (obeying) even more than usual that day.

Anyway, instead of denying them (and me) their play-date, I decided to have a mini family meeting and a few role-plays about their behavior and my expectations for them. It was so cute to have my older 5-year-old son take the lead on the role-plays and the several different problem-solving ideas he had for the evening.

For instance, I asked them, "What will you do if your friend doesn't want to share his toy that he's playing with?”  Greyson replies, "If he doesn't want to share, I'll ask him which toys I can play with?” Greyson went on to say, "Or I'll ask him when will it be my turn?”

I then proceeded to ask, “What will happen if Reid says, "Stupid?”  Greyson said, "I'll whisper in his ear and remind him we use the word silly instead."

We then role-played the dinner scenario and practiced our manners. I was beginning to wonder if I had gone a little overboard with all the "talking" and role-playing?

After everything was said and done, my neighbor said they had a great night and were very well behaved. I was proud, relieved, and once again excited to see another Positive Discipline tool working at its best.

This week’s tool card was yet another reminder that our childreneven as young as 3-years and 5-years-oldare wonderful problem solvers. For the most part they had better problem solving solutions and strategy's than I would have thought of in a lecture. Note to selfdon't underestimate the minds and creativity of our children. They're better at solving their problems than we are. And they'll also follow through when it is their ideas.