Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sense of Humor

Sense of Humor is definitely the easiest and healthiest tool card to practice—when I remember!
    When I think back to why I wanted to have children, the first thought that comes to mind is, “Because I want to have a joyful life with lots of fun and loving memories.”  Sound lovely....right?
    Why is it, that once our children start talking, parenting tends to be less joyful and more stressful? I always considered myself to be a patient person until I had my 18-month old constantly telling me, "No!"
    Even with my tool belt fully loaded I found, and still find 6-years later, that I’m constantly challenged to truly enjoy being a parent. Walla! A Positive Discipline Tool card to the rescue.
    Last week I made the decision to practice the Sense of Humor tool card every chance I can (which is often). I found that every time I used my sense of humor, the many challenges of temper tantrums, whining, back talk, not listening, fighting with siblings etc., stop immediately. Magic.
    Some examples of sense of humor include, tickling the ______ right out of them; whether it be the sass or a temper tantrum. You and your children can't laugh and be mad at the same time, even though they may try just for a few seconds.
    Just yesterday, when they were supposed to be in the garage cleaning up the mess of toys, my boys were fighting over who picks up what or who made what mess. Re-actively, I went out feeling irritated and annoyed that they were fighting once again. Then I remembered “sense of humor.” I turned the car radio on and said, "Dance party." We instantly started laughing and being silly. We were putting things away together as a team, totally connected and having fun. Not only did the garage get cleaned up, I’m sure we created a great memory while doing so.
    My favorite part of this tool card is that it builds so many characteristics that I want my boys to have such as cooperation, respect, loving, helpful, self-worth, care free outlook on life, a connection with each other and me, and of course a sense of humor.
    Laughter truly is the best medicine, stress reliever and a very important piece to a loving relationship. Who knows? If all the research is correct, maybe we'll be adding years to our lives with good health, peace, and joy in parenting. ;-)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Small Steps

Small steps was the perfect tool card for this week. My almost 5-year-old son started kindergarten and, as much as I don't agree with it, he was given homework. I really struggled with this for the first few days for several reasons. First, isn't 7 hours each day enough time to teach them?

Second, he was napping for almost two hours a day in preschool less than a month ago. (Thank Goodness we live 20 minutes from school so he can fall asleep.)

My biggest frustration is that I miss him all day while he's at school and then I find us battling about homework instead of enjoying family time. Even though I know better, I was bribing, threatening, praising and then wanting to reward him just to trace and color his alphabet letters. Then I remembered this very simple and powerful Positive Discipline tool on Small Steps.

I sat next to him and shared that my writing was really sloppy and that I wanted to relearn my letters to look like his. My sons face lit up. I asked him if I could have my own homework that could be just like his? He loved this idea and was quick to say, "Sure Mom!"

I started practicing my A's while he practiced his. I believe that he felt connected, and encouraged to do his. When he started getting side tracked I asked if he could go over my work? He said, "Sure Mom!" He then started demonstrating and comparing my work to his. It melted my heart when he would quote me with words of encouragement I have used with him in the past such as, “Way to go Mom,” and, “You must be so proud of yourself.”

Another way we practice "small steps" is when brushing his teeth. Sometimes I will use a small step by saying, "You brush the top while I brush the bottom." This works every time because I believe  he's feeling the connection and the encouragement.  Another small step is having him help me pack his lunch. I have him choose which part of his lunch he'd like to pack? He has the choice to  put his fruit and crackers in the bags or to make his sandwich. I love how we are working so much side by side as a team helping one another rather than fighting and going through daily power struggles; which I've experience several times when I'm NOT practicing Positive Discipline.

You may have noticed how so many of the tools are used in combination with other tools. For example, Connection and Encouragement were essential parts of Small Steps.

Small steps turned out to be big steps when I realized how they eliminated all the extra steps involved in power struggles, temper tantrums, disconnect and me feeling like a mean mommy. Taking small steps is so much more rewarding!

I often wonder why I ever parent without using these PD tools I know so well? Then I'm reminded by my mom or myself: "Oh yeah, it's because you're not a perfect parent, and you're a human being." Thank goodness I have PD to teach me the skills to recover from my mistakes, and to constantly remember that "Mistakes are Wonderful Opportunities to Learn!"

Sunday, August 25, 2013

One Word

This morning my oldest son, Greyson, almost 7-years-old said to me, "I can't wait until I'm grown up so I can boss my kids around."

I was amused, surprised and hurt at the same time. Amused because he thinks that being older means being the "boss". Surprised because we were having a cuddle moment on the rocking chair and I was sharing with him that I didn't want him to grow up. And I was hurt, because I didn't like that he perceives me that way.

I asked him, "What does being a boss sound like?" He said, "Go clean your room....NOW."

Ugh. I know that's not how I speak to him all the time, but I also knew I was guilty of it many times...sigh!

I asked him, "What if we came up with an agreement where all I said was One Word?"

He said, "I'd like that!"

I encouraged him by saying, "I know that you are aware of all the chores and expectations we have as being a part of this family."

He also said, "But sometimes I do need reminding."

We agreed that One Word would be enough.

Later that morning he left his bowl on the counter, I said, "Greyson, bowl."

He said, "Mom that was two words."

I smiled and gave him a big hug. I laughed and said, "Okay, maybe it will be two words if your name is going to count."

This tool continued to work throughout the day with One Word reminders such as, hands, teeth, shoes, and hug.

What would I do without these Positive Discipline Tool Cards.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Eye to Eye

Tonight I experienced why it is so important to get Eye to Eye with my child when trying to communicate.

The boys and I (6 ½-year-old Greyson and 4 ½-year-old Reid) were enjoying our Friday evening with a Red Box movie. We were having our typical movie treats (popcorn and ice cream).

While we were all lying on the couch, Reid decided to help himself to some orange juice. On one hand, I was happy to have my 4-year-old son helping himself to a drink when he was thirsty. On the other hand, I was annoyed that he had poured himself a full cup of juice right before bed.

I turned my head to acknowledge him and what he had poured and gave him a little lecture about how he should have chose water since it was right before bed and how I didn’t want him to pee his bed and have all that sugar etc.

Naturally, I expected him to think“You’re absolutely right Mom!” Yeah right. He just continued to pound it until it was almost gone when I firmly said, “Reid, stop drinking that juice!” He obviously did not like how I was speaking to himwho would?

To my surprise, he got right in my face and shouted at me, “OK MOM!”

I was so upset, and I felt so disrespected! I told him he was done watching the movie and that he needed to go upstairs and go to bed.

By his response and my immediate realization, we both apologized and said we wanted to try again. What I learned from this moment was that if I had actually gotten up off the couch, and looked at Reid Eye to Eye while explaining all my concerns about his drink of choice; he would have heard me. If I had used a respectful and calm tone, he would have felt respected.

Of course, I realized all this after I messed up. Reid melted and crushed my heart at the same time when he told me, “I just don’t like it when you yell at me.”

Once again, mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn!