Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Don't make me send them to starving eunuchs in Bangladesh, is what I'm saying.

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.



  1. I struggle with this same stuff (and I think a lot of people do). This is the first time I've heard of the asking "how do you feel?" in these situations but I am so going to try that. And maybe check out that book. It sounds like it's working! Most of the time!

    The thing that gets me, every time I blow up -- which is less now but still happens -- is that I am teaching my girls to blow up when they're upset. And I don't want that! AWFUL. So thank you for writing about this. I think the more we talk about this stuff, the better.

    1. So, I haven't gotten the book, because I know for a fact that I won't sit down and read it anytime soon, but I signed up for her newsletter, and you get great messages every day with practical suggestions. I don't know if I'm relaying her message exactly right, but this is what I take from her, and I promise, we've gone from lots of fights to not very many.

      It is so HARD. And yes, we teach them not to lash out and yell...except that we wind up doing it ourselves. BECAUSE THEY MAKE US CRAZY!!! :)

    2. Yes, they do! And Yay! I'm all signed up. :)

  2. Erm. I am going to do my utmost to not use that last sentence in a very different situation, because I'm pretty sure that the recipient of such a comment would not find it NEARLY as amusing as I would.

    1. It would be pretty satisfying to say to an adult who would get it, though, wouldn't it?

    2. Yes. Yes, it would. Not that I have anyone in particular in mind. Nope. Puuuuure speculation. ;o)

    3. Nope! Just speculating! Now I want to say it to someone. Just for fun.

  3. Good timing, I needed this advice today! Jane acts the same way with the baby (1 yr. old) we nanny and I am scared to have another of our own! Today I swore to several people that she is becoming so f-ing spoiled that within the year I need to find some sort of work and get her into a preschool so she doesn't have mama constantly catering to her every whine. Going to sign up for the newsletter now...

    1. I am glad that Jordan got into daycare at age two - he needed the socialization, quite honestly. The kids who had been in since they were much younger were all used to having to do stuff with other kids, and he was not, except for one-on-one playdates. He still gravitates towards adults, except when he's with a kid he really likes. I don't know, though, how much of that is personality and how much is him being at home the first couple years.

  4. I waffle about this. On one hand, I'm all for positivity and feeling good. But on the other, something you need to follow the rules because those are the rules. That's the way the world works and nobody gives a shit about how you feel about it. It's a struggle to make those two approaches work together.

  5. Did you turn away and laugh at yourself after you realised what you said...


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