Saturday, November 27, 2010

Five Criteria for Positive Discipline With Parenting Expert Dr. Jane Nelsen

"I Need A Hug"

Dr. Jane Nelsen of writes in this article (click on the title for the link) about a soft approach to an out of control child. This particular approach may not work every time, or even more than once. But you and your child will never forget it.

A child is in the middle of a screaming tantrum. Father gets down and shouts, "I need a hug!" Child: "What?!?" Father: "I need a hug!" Child:"Now?!?" Father "Yes!" Child shrugs, "Okay" and hugs his father. The tension melts away, and father says, "Thanks, I needed that." Child says, "So did I." They can then deal with whatever started the tantrum after that, or not. Perhaps that is all that was needed.

The father above has taught his son several things in this moment. Here are just some that I thought of that his son learned:
1. His father loves him no matter what.
2. He, the son, can contribute to helping others, and that helping others also helps himself.
3. When people are upset, try pulling them closer instead of pushing them away. He now knows how that feels.
4. True love heals the hurt caused by anger.

The father above also learned several things in that moment:
1. He learned that he loves his son no matter what.
2. His son has a good heart, even when he's angry. He respects him for it.
3. Pull others close when they are angry, instead of pushing them away.
4. Holding his little boy close and feeling true love heals the hurt caused by anger.

Reading the above article I thought of the first time something like this happened with my daughter. I like remembering these things, because it's the only way I can make sure I don't ever forget!

My daughter was screaming, thrashing, shouting obscenities, and I was at a loss. The overwhelming feeling came over me; 'She is doing this because she doesn't feel loved.' I got down on the floor and shouted over her screams, "Do you think I don't love you?!" She quieted down and stared at me. I said more softly, "Are you really angry because you don't think I love you very much?" She started to cry real tears, pain and deep-felt hurt pouring out of her. I hugged her tightly, and through my own tears I cried to her, "I love you more than anything! You are my baby girl, and you always will be. You changed my life. You are my angel!" We sat on the floor and cried, and I felt her pain. I felt my own pain. I promised myself that things would be different from then on.

I don't know if my daughter remembers that day, but I know I will never forget. It was one of the first turning points for us--when I started realizing that love conquers all, not pain and shame. I pray I will never forget. I pray that I will remember how I felt before and after that moment. I pray that I will remember her face, and the pain that came pouring out of her, so much hurt, all caused by my negative discipline. Maybe I didn't beat my kids (except for spanking,) I didn't hit them with anything, no bruises (besides on their backsides,) but I controlled them (or tried to control them) using fear, intimidation, shame, and apathy. I didn't look ahead, I just tried to get through the moment, hoping that somehow, some way, things would get better. All my discipline was centered on immediate control, not long-term goals. It hurt. It hurt them- it hurt me- it hurt my spouse. It was wrong. It felt wrong. I just didn't know what else to do. Now I do know what else to do. I have given myself permission to use Christ's teachings in my home to teach discipline to my children, and myself. Self-discipline is contagious. The children learn it by watching. They also learn the opposite by watching. Am I ready to be the grown-up and make a choice? Am I ready to learn, for the sake of my family, how to be a true Christian?

The root of the word "discipline" is "disciple". I ought to BE Christ. I am the body of Christ, as are all his disciples, so how would Christ treat my children? If he were in my place, would he spank them? Would he shame them? Would he try to break their will? I can only know the answers as I learn more about Him. Simply remembering Him and how He feels, helps me see things differently. I want to be patient, I want to be kind, I want to show mercy and love. This is the reason for this blog--to make sure I keep remembering.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Children

Kaylee 6yrs, Kendon 2yrs, Peter 4yrs

Kirk Martin wrote in a Celebrate Calm newsletter, that when we let go of our anxiety, and calm ourselves down, we will see our children blossom, and their true nature begin to surface.

My children are beautiful.  Every day, I watch them become even more so.  I see, not myself, but divinity shining from their eyes.  I can only watch and wonder how such simple, yet complex beauty is created.

Kaylee is a prodigy at arranging things to make them look pleasing to the eye. This was a year ago.  She's even better now.
 Kaylee.  Powerful.  Passionate.  Precious.  Kaylee learned early in life to hold feelings in. Now she is learning to open up, cry, let her heart be touched.  She was hurt the most by the philosophies of the world.  She knows deep down, by her own experience in her life, the healing power of Jesus Christ.  She and I went through it together.  We cried together, we clung to each other during the hard days, we smiled through tears as the healing began, and we promised we would never forget.   
  She is like a rare flower, that if you try to grasp, will immediately close up and hide.  She will shine and sparkle, only if she is left alone.  She is capable of hard work.  Determination and grit rush to her face as she strengthens her arms, her legs, her stomach.  She dances with heart, putting her all into every movement.  If she feels she is not perfect, she is hard on herself.  In her I see an angel who has taken the form of a human, determined to find her former glory.  When she is disobedient, it is usually for that reason.  She is trying to find her power, test her own strength, and become her own powerful person.
Her blue eyes sparkle when she laughs.  They peer deeply into my soul when she is learning, and cloud over when she is hurt.


What can I say about my middle child?  He is compassionate, loving, and strives to be constantly obedient.  He loves the Lord, and often sings His praises. He is very smart.  He isn't in a hurry, EVER.  He seems to understand that rushing through life causes us to miss important details.  Sometimes, he has to remind me.  He is very detail oriented.  He surprises us as he learns how to draw things on his own, with surprising detail for a 4 year old.  We took a walk through an atrium once.  He discovered each plant, learned their names, asked questions about them,  found a praying mantis, and not only wanted to learn all the details about what it eats and where it lives, but wanted to tell a story about it, guessing at what it might be thinking and feeling.  He talked on and on, and drew me into a detailed conversation on the matter.  He asks so many questions...why? what? where? when? who? how many?  With oh so many follow up questions.  His questions are as never-ending as his curiosity.   Is it any wonder that his favorite TV show is Go Diego Go!?  He loves the learning as much as the excitement.  He loves to be read to, and cannot go to sleep without a story.  He has a really hard time sleeping.  He wakes easily, and lies in bed thinking, drawing, or telling stories to himself for long hours.  He can retell a story he's heard only a couple of times, with astonishing detail.

He loves to run, climb, and play, and is currently learning to skip.  He couldn't skip at first.  So he galloped.  But he finally has started to figure it out on his own.  He's not especially fast, or coordinated, but not clumsy either. His build is small, and he gets very upset when he can't do things as fast or as well as his sister.
 He wants to understand the world.  He wants to understand people and their relationships, why Mom and Dad are sometimes inconsistent, why we humans hurt each other, and thinks it's exciting that he loves his sister, even though he sometimes gets mad at her!

He love, love, loves animals of all kinds. This Thanksgiving he said he was thankful for 
1. Worms-because they help the Earth.
2. Roly Poly Bugs-because they're good-guy bugs. They don't bite.
3. Butterflies because they help plants grow.
4. Giraffes because they're really tall, and have really long tongues, and eat the leaves of trees.
5. Mom and Dad because they love me.
6. Jesus--He made everything.


Kendon is my baby.  He is my child that I followed my instincts with.  He is the only one that I have little to no regrets about.  I still nurse him occasionally, he's two and a half now.  He has never been spanked.  He is obedient and loving.  He loves his Mama!  He loves his Daddy too, and grandparents and nursery teachers, but most of all, his Mama!  He mimics everyone but has a will of his own.  

He is my right hand.  He helps me do laundry, dishes, peck on the computer, (ahem,) cooking, mopping, talking on the phone, he is my shadow, constantly learning, for good or for bad.  He talks and talks like an older child.  He wants to be exactly like his big brother.  He doesn't know he's small. He is very sharp, and is difficult to fool.  He is inquisitive like Peter, but in a different way. He asks questions to determine what to expect, to establish certainty in his life.  
He is happy and loves to laugh.  He runs, falls, and gets up and runs again saying, "I'm okay."  He loves to communicate.  He sometimes gets upset, because his whole life, his older siblings have dominated all conversation.  He now asserts himself, and says, "Kaylee!  or Peter!  I'm not finished!!  Mommy, can I talk now?"
He is starting to want to potty train.  He wants to be big like Peter and Kaylee.  But when we talk about "No more milks" (nursing) he insists he's still a baby.  

Kendon is assertive, more than the other kids were.  He is willing to reach out and explore, as long as he knows I am always going to be there when he comes back to me.  He is not bothered any more if I leave him with Grandma, because he's figured out that Mommy always comes back.  Sometimes he is shy and won't speak to anyone but Mommy, and other times he summons his courage and speaks.  Many people are amazed after getting to know us that Kendon can speak almost as well as the other kids.  Still, in my heart he is my baby.  I am protective of that relationship, and I will not leave him for more than a day.  I have such a close connection with him that one day recently I was thinking about something, and he started to say aloud what I was thinking!

Kid Conversation

Kendon:"Kaylee, do you want this?" 
Kaylee (holding hand out): "Yes, thank you." 
Kendon(still holding item): "Did you say yes?" 
Kaylee: "Yes."  
Kendon (holding item just out of reach): "Did you say Yes? or No."  
Kaylee: "I said yes." 
Kendon: "Did you say No?... or Yes."  
Kaylee: "I said Yes." 
Kendon (still holding item barely out of Kaylee's reach,) "Did you say Yes?..." 
 [5 minutes of repetition later...] 
Kaylee: "No" 
Kendon: "Okay...Did you say No?" 
Kaylee (laughing): "Yes"
(Kendon walks away with item in hand.)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Celebrate Calm Stop Defiance Live Event in Fairfax County, VA

My kids ate WAY too much sugar a few weeks ago.  They ran around crazy, screaming, not listening to anything I said, and I started to lose it.  I know better, and I know how to do this correctly, but that night, the truth is, I too had eaten WAY too much sugar myself, and I did not feel completely in control of myself.  So my husband comes home to find me yelling at the kids to "CALM DOWN!  YOU ARE OUT OF CONTROL!!!"  (The irony of which they of course picked up on.)

He did not say anything to me right then, he just went in the room, and let me go back and forth from the bedroom where I yelled at him about the kids, to the rest of the house, where I yelled at the kids.  He looked at me with pain in his face, but said nothing.  I raged even more, because I thought he was no help at all!  Had I been thinking clearly, I would have realized that he wanted nothing to do with my anxiety, and neither did my kids.

Finally I realized that my anger was escalating, and I locked the kids in their room to bounce off the walls in there, while I washed the dishes.  (Locking them in their room is not a principle of attachment parenting, but neither is yelling.  I just needed a few minutes of peace to get control of myself.)  So as I did the dishes, my husband comes up behind me, and gently, with a warm smile, starts stroking my back.  He says with a smile, "Are we going to become a screaming family now?" We laugh a little.  I feel the muscles in my back begin to unwind.  Without saying anything else, offers me unspoken words of love in his gentle touch, and I can't hold back a return smile.

His calm was contagious.  I immediately felt humility returning to my soul, and remorse begin to set in.  He made me feel like the luckiest wife on Earth in that moment.

I think that's how God reprimands us.  He lets us feel the difference between what we're choosing, and what He is choosing, and gives us the space to come into His calm if we choose-- to choose love instead of rage-- to chose self-control instead of controlling others.  His way is the way of closeness, the way of kindness, the way of self-mastery, and most of all, choice.  I chose a different evening, and apologized to my children.  I chose love.

I choose love.