Sometimes I can find the charm in "Maaaaaamaaaa my bath! MY BATH! IS TOO WET! DRY MY HANDS!"
Other times these tragedies arrive on the heels of the dinner struggle (Everything is yucky! Or spicy!) and the no-sharing of toys and some variation of a hysterically shrieked, "India wants to take my socks she's touching my socks pick she up she's going to take my socks!" and my head just melts.
We had gotten to a point where we were doing a lot of fighting and everything - every. thing. - was such a fucking struggle. Breakfast. Shoes. Going to school. Dinner. Bath. Pajamas. Bed. Everything.
At the suggestion of my friend Kay, however, I've been reading Aha! Parenting, and genuinely making an effort to connect and be compassionate and turn situations around so that they are cooperative rather than adversarial. And I have to say, things in our household have definitely improved because of it.
When Jordan does something to be proud of, instead of saying, "Good for you!" automatically, I ask him how he feels.
"Wow, you did that all by yourself! How do you feel?"
Instead of commending Jordan for sharing, I now point out how happy he has made India (or another kid).
"How do you feel?"
The goal, as I understand it, is to make your kid feel safe and loved and make them want to collaborate with you. Instead of doing things you tell them to because they're afraid of punishment or because you've yelled them into it or whatever. And you want them to recognize the feelings of others.
This goes along nicely with our goal of making our kids recognize how lucky they are to have all that they have. They have more than others. We give to others who have less. We share.
Sometimes I am kind of manipulative about it, like when Jordan's cars and trucks are all strewn about and he is refusing to pick up, even when I suggest doing it together, or as a race. And so I must admit that sometimes I posit that maybe he has too many cars and trucks? And maybe we should give some to a kid who doesn't have a car or a truck? Because there are little kids who don't have cars and trucks, and he has so many that he doesn't want to pick up.
I'm probably setting him up for therapy in some way with this. But it gets the background picked up.
So the positive parenting: No time-outs, no yelling, no threats. You calm yourself down, you let the kid cry if they need to so they can get all their big feelings out, and you work to make things positive.
When I successfully navigate a stressful kid situation, how do I feel? I feel good!
But it is a learning process. Sometimes I manage it nicely.
And sometimes, like the other day when Jordan had snatched several balls from India ("Taking away her toys makes her sad. Look how sad she is.") - balls that he knows we do not throw in the house ("We roll them inside, remember?") and was not only taunting her with them, but also throwing them past her, then running to grab them, after several attempts at calm, positive parenting, I may have lost my mind.
"IF YOU DON'T STOP THAT I'M JUST GOING TO TAKE ALL THOSE BALLS AND GIVE THEM TO A LITTLE BOY WHO DOESN'T HAVE ANY BALLS! IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?"