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Wednesday, April 29, 2009 for naughty or nice (re-post)

How is everyone doing? I'm sorry if this crazy week of re-posting is boring, but I'm making real headway on my scrapbooking, and that makes me happy.

As, I have said all week, be sure to head over to my Giveaway post. You don't want to miss it.

Today, I want to share one of my first indepth discussions of my parenting philosphy. I love writing pieces like this, but they take so much time, and I rarely find the right moment to write such pieces. I hope to remedy that this summer. You can read some of my other parenting posts HERE.

So if you missed it the first time....or just might enjoy a reminder food for thought, here it is:

You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance. ~Franklin P. Jones

Recently I have run across several discussions on Toddler Tantrums. Lis Garrett posted
a lovely article on her blog, that really got me thinking about this subject. Then The Nap Warden reached out for advice. Reading comments on such posts intrigues me. I am forever amazed at the vast difference in parenting there is out there. The different techniques out there opens my eyes and gives me a chance to reflect on my own parenting style and try to articulate why I do the things I do.

One of my favorite questions for other parents is "WHY?" Yeah, I isn't like they never hear that question from their children. However, I enjoy challenging people to articulate WHY they are parenting the way they are parenting. Often, I find, that parents stumble around at a loss for explaining their line of thinking. I am not saying that folks aren't thinking when they are parenting. I am saying that often we just don't know WHY we are doing things the way we are. Maybe it is just how they have seen it done....or how they were parented. Maybe they are just trying out things they have read about. Possibly they are just going with their gut. Any is always advisable to take a step back, and really think about WHY. In this....we must truly analyze who we are, and who we want to be.

I'd like to share one of the most inspirational quotes I have read in a long...long time.

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. ~Stacia Tauscher

WOW! Read it again.

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. ~Stacia Tauscher

Oh my yes.....that says so much. It touches my heart. I see the relevance of it in our world. As non-judgmental as I TRY to be, I often fall short when I see children being treated without empathy. Young children are just like you and me. Their body runs the full range of emotions. Each day they may feel happy one minute, and extremely discouraged the next. We are not born knowing how to express emotion. It is through interacting with adults that children learn how to identify emotion, and how to appropriately express those feelings.

As a parent, I find that when I consistently handle my daughter with the care all humans deserve, and empathize with her challenges, I come the closest to getting it right. I believe that most of our difficulties are based on the fact that she is a normal human being with the full gamut of emotion, and it is MY job to help her successfully deal with those emotions. It is MY job to take her by the hand and lead her in the right direction.

I parent by the golden rule. I treat Sugar as I would like to be treated. To achieve this, I have had to dig deep and identify my own feelings.

-I do NOT like to get in trouble for things I didn't even know was wrong. Children are not born knowing the rules. They must learn right from wrong from others. It is OUR job to successfully lead children in the right direction. I try to think of how I would feel if I entered a new job, and no one told me what I was supposed to do. I was just let loose on the job, and then suddenly without warning I was reprimanded for the things I did incorrectly. I try not to inflict such confusion on my child. I set clear boundaries, and steadily work at making sure she understands them. Most young children will not get it right away. It is through consistent follow thru on the parents part, that they begin to understand and follow the rules. It is my belief that the majority of the time, children WANT to do the right thing. They may have impulses and desires that are inappropriate, but that is due to their developmental age....NOT because they WANT to be bad.

-I do NOT like to be yelled at. In fact, when I am yelled at, I shut down. I can not listen, or learn in this situation. I have fear, and anger. It is especially hurtful when someone I love and trust yells at me. Knowing this about myself, I apply it to my dealings with Sugar. 99% of the time I refrain from raising my voice. If safety is involved, I may shout out to get attention, but other than that, I use a normal tone of voice. I like being able to get down at her level and say, "Oh my....You are yelling. Remember....we don't yell. Mama doesn't yell at you....and you don't yell at me. Can you tell Mama in your normal voice?"

-I do NOT like to be physically hurt. I know this is touching on a really touchy subject, but I am simply stating WHY I chose not to physically discipline MY child. I try to imagine what my world would be like if every time I made a mistake someone hit me. I don't care if they had warned me....or if it was unexpected, I would be so fearful. I am certain I would NOT work in a job where the boss had the right to hit me every time I messed up. We can all agree that it isn't a healthy relationship if my partner has the right to hit me if I forget to take the garbage out. I am fairly certain that respect isn't garnered by physical punishment. Fear should not be mistaken for respect. I respect hundreds of people who never laid a hand on me. Knowing this about myself, I practice a "hands off" parenting style, even when safety is involved. I am ever mindful of the message I am sending my child. I believe ALL humans have the right to be free of physical violence. (Please know, that I am respectful of other parenting choice, but it won't stop me from asking you WHY, and hoping that you can articulate your answer.)

-I do NOT like being completely without choice. Seriously....can you imagine having NO control of your life? I can not. I like having choices. I don't always have all the choices, but it is nice to have some. I parent keeping this in mind. I may not be able to let Sugar choose when bedtime is....but she certainly can decided which jammies she gets to wear. I make it a habit of offering her a choice as often as possible, so she has a greater sense of control. "Would you like to put your shoes or your coat on first before we go?" "Do you want the blue or the red cup?" "Do you want to brush your teeth or take a bath first?" "Which book would you like me to read?" The possibilities are endless. Then when something comes up, that just isn't a choice I say, "I can hear that you don't want to take a nap right now, but this is just not a choice. It is nap time. How about AFTER your nap, you can choose which game we are going to play?" I always try to offer a replacement choice.

-I do NOT like it when my feelings are disregarded. When I say, "I'm sad!", I certainly don't want to hear, "I don't care!" When I am frustrated, it doesn't help to be ignored. Often if someone can just empathize with helps. Keeping this in mind, I ALWAYS acknowledge Sugar's feelings. It is perfectly okay for her to be angry, frustrated, sad, happy, or excited. She just may not be expressing it appropriately. I acknowledge her feelings, let her know if the way she is expressing it is okay or not, and offer an alternative if needed. "Oh dear, Sugar...I can see you are very disappointed. You don't want to leave the park. It is okay to be sad about it, but remember we don't yell at each other. Maybe when we get to the car, you can snuggle your blanket for a bit. That might make you feel better." or "Sugar....I see that you are very angry at mommy. I am sorry that you can not watch another episode of Dora right now, but you can not hit. Remember we have a rule about NO hurting. Can you use your words and tell mama how you are feeling?" I believe it is okay for her to say, "I am mad at YOU!" as long as she isn't yelling it at me. I then say, "Yes, I can see you are mad. Sometimes we just get mad at each other, but that is okay. We still love each other. Maybe we can come up with something that will make you feel better." I do NOT give in. She does not get to do whatever it was that started the anger, but I am not opposed to helping her feel better. Don't we like others to try to make us feel better when we are upset? You'd be surprised how quickly some children feel better about things when they are sure you understand them.

On a whole, I practice the whole "reward good behavior and prevent misbehavior" technique. Most parents understand and practice the first part of that statement, but the last half is often misunderstood. I like to believe that I parent using a good Offense. I do my very best to stay in tuned to my child, and predict her feelings and moods.
As Lis stated, when Sugar is tired, or hungry she is more likely to have a meltdown. Knowing this, I go into it prepared to prevent the tantrum. Instead of saying, "it is time for bath" when I know she is likely to get upset, I say, "Sugar! When we jump in the bath right now,do you want to play Ice Cream Shop or bubble beards first?" She is tricked into focusing on the exciting things she will get to play, and totally forgets that she really didn't feel like taking a bath in the first place. This technique sets the child up for success....and isn't that what it is all about?

Children are born, and placed into our arms. It is our mission to embrace them, honor them, respect them, teach them, and love them. It isn't easy, but they are counting on us to do the right thing. You decided what is right for you, and yours.

4 Live It or Love It:

Tabitha Blue said...

Ohhhh, I think this blast from the past is wonderful... glad you catching up on all your scrapbooking!! Wonderful insights you've shared as well. I love your approach, and have learned a bit from you, so thanks!!


Autumn said...

Oh great the post that makes me feel so inadequate as a mother.

OMG you know I'm COMPLETLEY joking right?? right!?? bueller.. bueller..
I love this post just as much as I love my friend Corey. :)
I actually really needed to read this tonight. Thanks my friend!

Berta said...

Now, that's what you call "a post"! I think you've 'got it right'! That has been my philosophy in raising my (7) kids - and amazingly enough, it worked! I go one step beyond and treat all our pets the same way - they have feelings too! ! ! Sugar Bear is a fortunate little girl!

Christina said...

Wonderful post, Corey! You make it all make so much sense.

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