All posts by crusoale

Communication

It is hard being small. Everything is a “no no,” or “not now,” or “maybe later.” It is no wonder our little ones throw themselves on the floor kicking and screaming at the slightest sign of resistance from us.

Communicating in any relationship is paramount to the happiness of the participants but why are modern parents so inapt at communicating with their children? Here are three cornerstone’s I’ve found help in my communication efforts with my own daughter.

Negotiating

It is not a matter of should you its a matter of when and how. Negotiations have to happen in every relationship. How can you teach your child to think of other people and have empathy for their peers, as well as yourself, if there is no negotiation? You are a teacher and have to remember the learning opportunity presented by negotiation. Instead of telling your child, “pick up your clothes NOW” try asking, “do you want to pick up your shirt or your pants? Here is the laundry basket.” Equal effort on your part lends authority in the eyes of your child.

Understanding Emotional Competency

Let me tell you a true story between my daughter and I.

She had a smirk on her face. When I walked up the stairs to her room because water was dripping from the ceiling onto my bed, her pants were off, she was squatting on her cot, and she was peeing with a smirk on her face! I turned around, walked outside and shut the door. I was so angry. I knew that she had done it on purpose. It was NOT an accident. How could a two year old be so spiteful, so calculated so manipulative?!

It was then, in that thought process, that I realized my mistake. I was attributing adult motivations and behaviors to a two year old. She wasn’t even old enough or even capable of understanding the things I was about to punish her for. She was learning and I was teaching. She was learning how I reacted to her. The thing I keep forgetting is that it is my job to teach my daughter how to manage her emotions.

By blowing up at her she only learns the power of anger and not the power to keep it in check.

Are you wondering how I handled that situation? I let it go. I stayed outside for a good twenty minutes and listened to her cry and bang on the door for me to come back inside. When I came in she hugged me tight and told me she was sorry for peeing on my bed. I told her I loved her even when she made me angry. Then, I asked her how she thought she should help fix her mistake and she told me she would clean it up. She got a towel and did her best.

Did her effort change the fact that we lived in a dry cabin with no water besides drinking water? Did it change the fact that I had to go to bed for a week in pee soaked sheets? No, but she never understood those issues in the first place…she is a two year old. What she did learn is that I love her even when she pees on my bed and that I can help her if she lets me. She learned that she is responsible for her actions and even how to towel up pee. Would she have learned that if I just yelled and spanked her or lectured her about the lack of a washing machine? I doubt it. Keep your expectations biased on love. Support rather than perfect. Do this and your child will thrive and excel.

Validating Emotions

“I AM GRUMPY!!!!! NEVER NEVER NEVER!!!!!!”
“What made you grumpy?”
“You buckled me without permission! You didn’t ask first! I NEVER get to buckle myself.”
“When you are calm I would like to talk to you about how to make you feel better. I am going to shut the car door until you stop screaming because your loud voice hurts my ears, tap on the window when you are calm.”
“Mommy I am calm.”
“Okay then, would you like it if I unbuckled you so you could do it yourself?”
“Yes”
“Okay, there is that better? What do you think you should do next time you want to buckle yourself?”

“Use my nice voice and tell you I always want to buckle myself because I am a princess helper and I buckle car seats all by myself.”

This is a real conversation that I had with my daughter this morning on our way to pee wee sports. I know from experience that if I handled it the way I was inclined to I would of had a screaming match with my three year old while stuck in traffic. Instead, I acknowledge her emotions and wants and accepted them. My daughter in turn felt accepted and was able to calm down and cooperate with me. Again, I had to make the extra effort and teach her how to make a request. Kids do not come knowing how to communicate. Language and vocabulary doesn’t mean comprehension.

Words are power and it is up to us parents to teach our children how to use their powers for good.

Listen to the kiddos and remember, it is hard to be small. Making the extra effort has an upside, it ensures that you are raising kids who are confident and well equipped to communicate with their peers and you. Good communication skills come with a host of benefits including more meaningful relationships, better jobs and an overall greater capacity for happiness.

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The Art of Patient Parenting

My daughter turned three this summer and anyone who has experienced the joys of spending 24/7 with a three year old is probably cringing… then smiling… because as much terror as they can cause, with the right outlook and enough patience, they can be a lot of fun.

However, patience doesn’t come easily. Everyday is a test. Here are ten things that have made it possible for me to grasp the concept of patient parenting.

1. Make time for Yourself

Me-Time.-Bliss.This is important! It helps keep you sane… believe me. I spend an hour a day on myself not thinking about my daughter, or housework, or other errands that need doing. I do things like yoga classes that allow drop ins, and a gym membership at the community center (our center only charges $32 monthly). Do what you enjoy. It doesn’t need to be a commitment because kids make those types of things stressful. Just an hour a day that is yours will do the trick. Those moments alone are special and do a lot towards building patience.

2. Surround yourself with Friends

Motherhood can be isolating at times and I know when I lock myself in a house with a three year old for too long it is damaging to my sanity. Having another mother who parents in a complimentary way is helpful and stress relieving. A good friend and I spend a lot of time together and we co-parent as a result. It’s refreshing having someone to talk to, especially someone who can relate to the hardships and joys of motherhood.

3. Get Outside

Beach-HillHomeWhen my daughter was first born I would take walks with her in her carrier daily. It helped calm me after a frustrating diaper change or a painful breastfeeding session. I still look forward to those walks now that she is three. On walks I am free from all the household distractions and I can have conversations with her and make her feel important. Whether its around the neighborhood or at a state-park, a walk with your child is a healthy way to stay patient and relaxed.

4. Acknowledge mistakes

It’s okay to be wrong. Your kids will respect you more for admitting it than they will for you ignoring it. Like when you misplaced something and blamed your little one for it (despite their protests of innocence), and then found it ten minutes later. You owe it to yourself and your child to acknowledge this mistake. Lead by example.

5. Look for the upside

Some days I wake up to a screaming child who, in the course of an hour, hits me, throws yogurt in my face and pees her pants. Those days it is hard to think positively let alone look for the upside. The only way I keep myself from turning on Netflix, throwing a bag of Kit Kats in the bedroom and running away (that may or may not have happened) is by laughing. Chasing the baby and turning her power play into a fun game of tag saves both our days. Try not to be so serious all the time.

6. Despite their small size kids feelings are just as big as yours

NOOOOOO MMMOOOOMMMMYYYY!!!!! That whine is enough to make me see red and erase the rational thought process from my mind. I revert back to a three year old’s problem solving capacity. Spank. Yell. Cry. Not exactly shinning moments in the quest to teach my daughter how to communicate without whining. I remember her feelings are just as big as mine and just as important, regardless of her ability to communicate them effectively. A child that feels understood is more patient, more confident and has more trust.

7. Its not all about teaching, its about learning too

wonder-wall-1We have a Wonderwall. It’s an idea I found on Pinterest. The concept is simple – a large piece of butcher paper, stack of sticky notes and a pen. My daughter will ask a question like “what are stars made of?” and though I want to tell her they are made of kitten dust and mommy kisses, I stop myself. Instead I write it down on a sticky note and put it on the Wonderwall. Every night we answer a question together. Life is one big learning experience for both of us. Everyday brings something new, and everyday she changes. The only way I can keep up with her is by letting her teach me who she is through the things that interests her and piques her curiosity. I have learned so much being a mother.

8. Your way isn’t the only way

Listening to your child will go a long way towards making your day run smoothly. You want to take Johnny to the park and he wants to go, but so does his superhero collection. Two choices, find a bag or box and safely seat belt them in next to Johnny, OR say “no we are leaving now,” drag a screaming Johnny to the car, and admonish him for not being more appreciative of park time. Fun turns into not so fun. Sometimes kids know what is best for them and remembering to listen can make life a little easier.

9. The only thing you should compare is prices not children

My daughter is a beautiful, smart and sweet natured girl and I hear a lot from friends and family how “perfect she is.” However, that did not stop me from comparing her to other kids at first. I passed judgment on those that fell short of her achievements and felt insecure when she fell behind others. Kids are unique. You do yourself and your child a disservice when you compare them. Love them instead, for who they are, and praise them for the many wonderful things they can do.

10. Put away the camera and enjoy the moment

I know it is hard to resist capturing every second of your husband and daughter playing at the park, but all that posing for Facebook is tiring for your tot and your husband. Have some fun and play pirates instead and give yourself and your family the gift of a flash free trip to the park.