It’s been a difficult period with Hazel. She’s been whining non-stop, and we haven’t been consistent in our response in a positive way. In fact, the biggest consistency in our response has been irritation or anger, alternating with attempts and understanding. So, tonight we spent half an hour reading the first chapter of, “Positive Discipline” and then conferred about it. Later in the book (we’ve started it before) the author suggests trying one new thing at a time, which seems like an awfully good idea. This week our one new thing is going to be removing ourselves from the situation when we’re too upset to process or be respectful and productive.
“I’m too upset to talk about this right now, Hazel, so I’m going to take a few minutes to calm down. When we’re both able to use regular voices and kind words we can talk again and come up with a solution.”
A few takeaways from the first chapter that have struck me each time I’ve read it are as follows.
Making your kid feel worse in order to do better is not helpful in the long run (or short run, either, really). But my inner child, who can be fairly vindictive, often wants to do that when I’m feeling especially overwhelmed and/or angry. So stepping away from the situation will help me get to a better, more adult place.
We think we have to solve the problem right at the moment it’s occurring. But often in that moment we’re in a fight-or-flight mindset, and not able to think or process calmly. We’re more likely to say things we regret later. After all, it is not necessary to rub our children’s noses in their mistakes, or attempt to shame them into better behavior. We can problem solve in a more cooperative way when we’re not in the middle of the conflict.
Discipline teaches compassion and self-reliance. Punishment teaches obedience and rebellion. We have to keep remembering what it is we want to teach Hazel (and ourselves). And that is not blind obedience to the iron and arbitrary fist.
Today when I was practicing I realized that I’d missed a tempo change in the first movement of one of the pieces for this concert. There is, in fact, quite a difference between a tempo in the mid-60’s and a much faster one of 152. Heh. I’m glad I caught it today. It does make the movement more fun.
This afternoon I went to lead the second parenting group meeting of this series. Ted didn’t come, because our nanny is sick. The topic was sleep. Side-topics that came up included alone time and partner time, as well as childcare. Already, the group members are looking at and to each other instead of me when they share, which is great. I’m excited to see their community forming.
Before I went off to that meeting I visited a nursery to get some more groundcover plants. We’re going to put in Lithodora diffusa at the back of the garden, under the climbing rose. We’ve seen it at a couple of houses in the neighborhood, and it is beautiful and striking. There aren’t that many genuinely blue flowers. These are vibrant and will provide a nice thick anti-weed barrier as well.
Tonight the twins ran around like nuclear-powered wind-up toys. Joanna doesn’t usually achieve the same volume as Emily, but she was giggling and squealing quite impressively with delight as the two of them climbed off and on of one of their toddler beds. This morning I rearranged their room, since leaning way over and reaching far out in front of me to lay a 24-pound toddler in her bed has started to challenge me too much. All three kids liked the new position of the beds, and in the twins’ case that lead to a certain amount of bedtime hijinks. We breathed a sigh of relief when they went to sleep, though it took a visit upstairs on Ted’s part before that occurred.
Ok, dishes await, and then bed. Having spent an hour this afternoon in conversation with a bunch of new parents about sleep, I think I shall attempt to put my money where at least my mind, if not my mouth is, and not wait until I’m drooping and wearing to hit the sack.