The next class we took was all about using our "calm voice". Now, this sounds super easy, right? Don't yell at your kids and they will be happier. But here's the thing people. Not yelling at your kids isn't enough. You need to maintain a calm voice while interacting with them. Not yelling, I can do. Always using a calm voice- not as easy as it sounds. I have only been trying to do this for a few days and I can tell you it is not easy. I have found myself raising my voice to be heard. I have heard the sarcasm or sharp note in my words. Tonight at the dinner table I was working with Alex on something, who knows what, eating with utensils instead of his fingers, not purposely dropping food on the floor.... shudder.... Anyways, whatever was happening was upsetting to me and I spoke, calmly. Which didn't stop the behavior and so I spoke again, not so calmly. I then took a deep breath, looked across the table at my husband, who was smiling at me because he knows that using a calm voice all the time cannot be easy for me, and tried again, in a calm voice. This one is not going to be so easy!
Now for the good news. I have been having my big five year old help out around the house for a while now. We never called them chores and we don't pay him for them, at least not yet. But he does have "jobs". He is responsible for putting the clean silverware away after the dishwasher finishes it cycle. He makes his own bed, most of the time. He picks up most of his toys, usually. So I have switched to calling this "help the family". I had already been talking to him for about a year now about what it means to be a part of a family, and so I am hoping that this little Positive Parenting Solutions inspired change in wording will help him to truly understand what I have been saying. And the tiny toddler does his share of helping too- he occasionally will put the place mats on the table for me at meal time and he loves to run the sweeper, although he often only sweeps the same area repeatedly. But that little spot has never looked better!
I have also added a new job for both of boys- carrying their own laundry up the stairs. Why have I not thought of this before? I found two small plastic bins with easy to grasp handles and when I fold the laundry, which is done in the living room, I now just pop their clothes into their respective baskets. Each boy is now responsible for carrying their own basket up to their rooms and the big five year old knows he now needs to put his own clothes away. We tried it for the first time last night and the tiny toddler grabbed his basket and toddled up the stairs, which, at times, was super scary because he could barely lift the tiny basket up onto each step and a few times he looked like he was going to fall backwards down the stairs. So scary, in fact, that I offered to help him, but he pushed me away saying, "Me do! Me do it!" And he did it. And then he raced back down the stairs on his tummy, his mode of stair transportation if he is in a really big hurry, and proudly accepted high fives from everyone. He was positively beaming! Seriously, I don't know why I haven't thought about this sooner- why have I been lugging their clothes up the stairs every day? Big change!
So, six weeks into my Positive Parenting journey and here is what I have learned:
- MZW & Mommy time starts our day off on a great note and makes our mornings run much more smoothly, but no amount of MZW & Mommy time is enough for MZW. He simply cannot fulfill his need for me. Which I love, of course. But it does make it hard for me to get anything done or to have any time for myself. But I can do all that stuff when he's grown, right?
- Using a calm voice all the time is going to be very hard for me.
- I need to allow my boys to help out more around the house and not get upset when whatever they've done isn't perfect. If my big five year old is getting dressed from his little laundry basket because he didn't put his clothes away, I need to be OK with that.
- Using less consequences is a good thing!
- We have only had to use "time out" once, the other day, with the tiny toddler.Once, in weeks!
- Reminding my big five year old to use his "regular voice" instead of whining is working. slowly.
- Patience. Sigh.