Monday, July 16, 2012

Winning Cooperation

Before my husband Mark and I got married we came up with the 3 C’s to a successful marriage. Communication, Compromise, and Compassion. Since becoming parents we’ve agreed that there was a ‘C’ that we were missing—Cooperation. We believe that anytime something is going wrong in our relationship, or with one of our children— one of the 4-C’s is missing.

The Winning Cooperation tool card teaches that children feel encouraged when we as parents understand and respect their point of view. For example, this week I tried winning their cooperation with some of the household chores, while also using some of the other C’s.

My boys love to play baseball! They want to play everyday. I am constantly feeling overwhelmed with laundry, dishes, and picking up the house. Instead of feeling resentful, which then usually turns into anger—I waited for my golden opportunity, knowing they would ask to play baseball. When they asked, I said I would love to as soon as I finish doing my chores around the house. I had already schemed the plan to say, “Why don’t you help me and then we can play?” But instead, my oldest son 6-year-old Greyson said, “We can help you unload the dishwasher and we’ll put away our laundry.” I felt within those few sentences that we had just met all 4 ‘C’s. And everyone was happy.

Before thinking of a way to win their cooperation, I would provide them with a big, long lecture, followed with a guilt trip. Still, they would persuade me to play baseball, and I would feel exhausted and resentful.  In this case, I was able to acknowledge them for being helpful, compassionate, good problem solvers, and patient. It was so much more fun to have them help with the chores and more rewarding for all of us to play baseball after.

Another example of winning cooperation was this week when my boys were feeling mad because they couldn’t have soda. I don’t drink soda myself, because I know how bad it is for me. I wish it wasn’t, because I love it! When Greyson started saying “It’s not fair that you don’t let us have soda. _________ always gets soda.” Why can’t we have it?” Instead of lecturing him and feel annoyed for asking yet again—I expressed understanding (compassion) showed him empathy by sharing how I never had soda when I was a kid, and how I always wanted it too. Then we made a fun game out of it by saying back and forth all the things we wished we’re good for us but that are not.  He would say, “I wish I could have candy for dinner.” I backed him up by saying, “I wish I could have ice-cream for dinner.” He said, “I wish sugar was good for you.” I followed by saying, “I wish that chewing gum and hard candy was good for my teeth” etc.  It was much more fun for both of us to be joking, laughing, and making a game out of it, instead of a lecture, guilt trip, and annoyance.  Winning cooperation is, once again, Win Win for everyone.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Back Talk

I had an “ah ha” moment this week when practicing the Don’t Back Talk Tool Card.  It happened early in the week when, once again, we were rushed to get out the door. I had snapped at my son for doing something that he could’ve waited and done in the car. (He was putting his new Spy Gear together, glasses, watch, and belt). And when I took a disrespectful tone with himhe immediately snapped back at me with the same tone.

The only difference this week was that I was able to recognize it right away. I got down to his level and said, “You just raised your voice at me and spoke disrespectfully because I just raised my voice with you and was disrespectful to you. I’m sorry for not valuing that what you were doing was important to you. I was expecting you to value my sense of urgency for getting out the door on time.

Of course, very logically he agreed.  (Children listen to you after they feel listened to.) I apologized and told him that I was sorry for speaking to him in that tone and that I understood that he was mirroring my tone and me. (Children learn what they live.)

I believe that this is the most important concept to remember as a parent. I apologize if I sound redundantYour days are not about how your children act or behave but how you as a parent act or behave.

Modeling/example is so important. Children mirror what we do. We cannot expect for our children to control their behavior when we don’t control our own. In other words if you want to know why your children are speaking to you disrespectfully or back talkingthen rewind or replay how you just spoke to them. Of course, they could be having a bad day on their own. In that case, it doesn’t help if we snap back.

For the rest of the week I was extra mindful of my tone and getting down to the level of both my boys when I spoke to them. I was then rewarded with a peaceful and respectful week with them. Win win for all of us.

Honestly, keeping a respectful tone was by far more effective then “telling” or by being too “firm” and not practicing “kind and firm” at the same time. Bottom linethe message I was reminded of all week was that you get what you give. It all goes back to one of the Universal messages we learned as childrentreat others the way you want to be treated. Classic and true!