Saturday, March 6, 2010

Discipline -- Part 3, The Harried Working Mom Version

I am always so amazed when rifts spring up between T1 and T2.  How could this possibly be happening?  I was so blissfully trying to do my job in snippets after the after-school follies of candy eating snack time and written torture homework.  They were playing.  It was pleasant with the trilling of happy child-voices engaged in the throes of childhood.  And then...the Grabber pisses off the Shrieker.  Oh well, bliss over.  Time to get involved.  Or is it? Maybe, but in a calculated way.

DG and I have followed this parenting program for five years, since the twins were 2 and wouldn't stay in their beds, with great success.  The philosophy is pretty simple: give children a routine, make clear expectations, descriptively praise steps in the direction of cooperation, and reflect their feelings.  Following the techniques really does result in a calmer, easier, and happier home life.  But it takes effort and energy--both rare commodities for a working mom.  I find myself slipping into habits of letting the kids go off on their own with no intervention from me until something erupts and then rushing in to solve whatever the problem is.  I accuse, raise my voice, try to "get to the bottom of this!" which usually results with more grabbing and shrieking as well as whining, crying, and screaming.  I love the harmonious sound of children trying to "one up" each other, don't you?

I've re-doubled my efforts of late, trying to bring the bliss back.  This morning T1 disrupted an Easter display that T2 had created.  She had left it alone thinking that it would remain untouched.  He came along, not knowing this part of her thinking, and took it apart.  She yelled as she is wont to do.  He ignored her as per his M.O.  But DG and I came in and calmly reflected her feelings of being upset.  She cried some more about how long it took her to make it and how she'll never be able to do it again.....and then it was over.  In. about. 2. minutes.  That's all.  If I had tried to get her to stop crying, it would still be going on now.  They re-played the scene again, this time doing it correctly: she politely asked him to leave her display alone.  He said okay, and he asked me for something similar to play with.  Joy, and off they went.  DG and I secretly high-fiving each other behind their backs.

The lesson is that even though it seems so grueling to take time away from the busy day-to-day to actually parent my children, I know that this is what I ultimately want--confident, self-reliant, cooperative children who I enjoy being with.

3 comments:

notmytree said...

That reflecting thing, if it means what I think it means, is brilliant. Does it mean like nodding, telling them you understand, suggesting what you think it is they feel? Because half the time I would get frustrated with my parents, it was because I didn't feel like they got my side of the story.
Oh, they're such good kids. Sure, a few fights, but they're great. Probably because they've got such great parents. ( :

Existential Waitress said...

What a thoughtful post! This perfectly describes the challenges I face lately with my 4 and 6 year olds. It's so easy to fall into a pattern of voice-raising in an attempt to nip the problem in the bud quickly (which actually usually fails miserably and escalates the problem). Remembering to tell my kids calmly, "I understand how you feel" more often than not does a lot to deflate the situation. It's just a matter of not letting them get the best of me in a weak moment... LOL.

Confessions From A Working Mom said...

This is brilliant. You are basically validating their feelings (something I am ALWAYS trying to get DH to do!), and recognizing why they are hurt/angry/frustrated. You're treating them like little adults, and they respect that, and in turn, act like little adults! I am very impressed :)

~Elizabeth
Confessions From A Working Mom