We have been knee deep in positive parenting approaches for almost three weeks now. We are still working our way through the classes, and there have been many times that I have gone back for a refresher course on something we have already covered. So far, I have to say, it is working. Most of the time. Not all of the time. And not always with the tiny toddler. Don't get me wrong. I didn't expect these techniques to work every time with the little guy. All I am really looking for is the opportunity to lay the groundwork for his future behavior. It is my hope that he is watching us right now, just taking it all in, and maybe one day it will "click" and he will just get it.
Here's what I have figured out so far: My boys are happiest when they have 100% of my attention. Not their teachers' attention, not their father's attention, my attention. Which they just cannot always have. That being said, the positive parenting approach is helping us find solutions to the behaviors that occur when their "attention buckets" are empty. I have been dragging myself out of bed 15 minutes early every school/work day to have "matthew & mommy" time first thing. He is really responding well to me waking him up and not forcing him immediately into his clothes and down the stairs for breakfast. We sit in the big chair in his room and read a few books or play Wheel of Fortune on my iPhone. He still usually wants me to stay and help him get dressed, but I am determined to choose my battles. After all, it only takes a few minutes to get him out of his pull up and into his play clothes, so I have been reminding myself daily that there will come a time when he won't want my help, and I will miss my sweet little boy kicking his pull up off and across the room, trying to hit whatever target he has chosen that day. The key, I have found, is reminding him both before we snuggle and after that we are enjoying "matthew & mommy" time. He is now usually dressed, with socks and shoes on, and teeth brushed before we sit down to breakfast. No nagging. Let me say that again. No nagging. And because the big five year old is ready to go I can focus more attention on the tiny toddler, who is having fewer morning meltdowns. Which is all leading to happier exchanges between my sweet husband and me in the morning, and no one has left the house late in nearly three weeks. Mornings, conquered.
I have also been working on assigning an appropriate consequence to whatever negative behavior I am witnessing from my boys. After taking a few of the Positive Parenting Solutions classes my sweet husband and I have determined that we were assigning consequences that didn't match the behavior. My big five year old couldn't draw that imaginary line between action and consequence, but now we are making that a little easier for him. For example, he loves to go grocery shopping with me. If he acts up in the store and doesn't stop when I ask I simply say, "I expect you to listen to me and stop ______. (insert crazy behavior here.) If you choose not to stop you may not come with me to the grocery store next time." This is very hard for me, because it requires two things. First, I have to be able to explain the consequence and then ignore the negative behavior if it doesn't stop. Second, I have to remember what consequence was given, and not take him to the grocery store next time. I am still working on this. It is so hard to let go and just ignore the behavior when it is driving me crazy. This past Sunday my big five year old was starting to get a little too bouncy while hanging out in the cafe at church and so I explained to him that we would not come early next week for a donut before church if he chosenot to behave. Then I turned back to my friend and continued our conversation. While he continued to bounce around a little. Ignoring him, while convinced that everyone around us was thinking, "Why is she letting her kid bounce around like that?" was very hard. I had to keep telling myself that no one around us was even thinking of us. And don't any of you tell me otherwise.
So right now I am working on myself, and not my kids. Letting go of some of the behaviors and not expecting them to be perfect is job number one. Not being so controlling is job number two. And I am seeing some improvement. Like I have said before, my kids behavior isn't really all that bad. We have our chaotic moments, but those are getting better. And bonus, I am starting to see a slight improvement in my tiny toddler's behavior. We have totally taken time outs off our "go to" list; they didn't work for the little guy anyways. I may put a toy in time out, but not the kid. So far, so good.
It is definitely a journey. And we have so much more to learn and more classes to take. But in the meantime, I am building my confidence, which will come in handy as my boys grow up! And I am already a calmer mommy. Last night my boys all headed into the house just as I was putting dinner on the table. My big five year old asked me what was for dinner and I told him that we were having roasted chicken but I knew he really didn't like that so, as a special treat, I made him chicken nuggets. usually he eats what we eat or he doesn't eat. But because I was calmer and happier I could see my way to making him a little happier too. And you know what he did? He climbed out of kitchen chair and ran over to me, yelling, 'Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mommy!", and ran right into me giving me a huge hug, Totally worth the effort.