Monday, July 23, 2012

No "NO!" Approach : )

So I'm back (and this time with a sick kid, but thank God I'm on vacation so I'm home...) and I've been giving a lot of thought to how we parent--our individual parenting styles.  I've been wanting to write this for a couple weeks. 

I am not talking about categorizing, I'm talking more the spirit in which we go about our duties as parents.  Active versus inactive, strict-swift discipline ("NO! STOP!") versus distract-redirect ("Should we do this?  How about this instead?!")  We can all fit into these labels at any given time of course--I have my "deal breakers" where it's automatic "I DON'T think SO!" however I'm talking about general beliefs. 

I believe in active parenting.  I don't sit and yell--I get up and correct behavior as I see fit.  I was raised this way and it fits my son's personality.  He responds to proximity, he responds to reason for the most part (lol but he's 2 so---sometimes reason isn't his cup of tea!)  I don't use "no" unless it's a dangerous thing.  I have seen the overuse of no as a teacher.  I also hate when people tell me not to do something...but never tell me what they WANT me to do.  Are kids any different?  In my mind, they aren't. 

Picture this: kitchen...kiddo opens a drawer, mama says "NO!"  Kiddo goes back to the super fun game of open-slam open-slam while mama continues to yell no and cook.  Mama gets really frustrated.  Familiar to anyone out there?

Ok, you don't want me to open the drawer?  Well, why?  What do you want me to do?  What can I do in here?  What's in this drawer that's so super awesome that you don't wanna share???  Open-slam.  Open-slam.  Giggle...

My kitchen situation usually goes like this:
D opens a drawer.  I walk over and tell him to please keep the drawer closed because there is XYZ in it, thank you.  I lead him to a cabinet he CAN open and pull baking things out of if he really wants to (if you don't have a drawer or cabinet that's kid friendly they can play with, I highly recommend it!  D loves the baking tins and cookie sheets--cool things that are safe and easy for me to put away.)  As a rule, D is happy to move.  Sometimes he isn't.  I simply stand in front of whatever it is and explain again.  And again.  And again.  Dinner, dishes, whatever can wait. 

I have the luxury of having an only child where I can ignore everything else and deal with situations, I know this isn't everyone's reality.  But even a little more patience can go such a long way!  (Oh, and manners--I say please and thank you every time.  If I expect him to use those, shouldn't I model it?) 

Understand I'm not perfect.  Do I get frustrated?  Of course.  However as a teacher, you learn not to show it to kids.  This has carried over into my parenting.  Does D need to feel my frustration?  No.  Never. 

He is a child, I am the adult.  I also work full time wrangling other people's kids, so yes, I am tired.  I am stressed.  I get burned out.  Not my kid's problem.  When I peed on that stick three-ish years ago, I made him the promise that I would be his loving, patient and caring mama and put him above all else.  When I walk into my classroom, I make the same promise to my students.  My issues are not theirs. 

It's natural for me and my unending patience (his term) amazes my husband every day!  What is SO satisfying is first seeing D respond to this and grow into a happy, well adjusted toddler...second is hearing Daddyguy say things like "Is that the best choice?  Should we pick that up?  Leave it, please!"  when before he would have yelled "NO! DON'T" from the couch. 

I totally understand that not all parents, kids and situations are created equal, all I'm saying is try a no "NO!" approach, redirect and see what happens.  Keep track of how many times you tell your kids what you DON'T want them to do and see what message you're sending.  Try to tell them what you would like them to do instead.  Let me know what happens! 

<3 Jen

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