Last week Charlie turned our gas fire on upstairs, as he normally does when it gets cold. Later on we moved downstairs to put him into bed. As I connected with him before he went to sleep, I suddenly remembered the fire and felt anxious that I had left it on.
I said goodnight without saying anything and then came upstairs and saw that it had been turned off. Charlie had turned it off. The next morning when I sat with him I said: ”Charlie, last night I noticed that you turned the fire off without being asked. I felt anxious when I remembered that I hadn’t switched it off and then I saw that you had done it. That’s what I call being responsible. You are a very responsible boy and that is a great quality.”
Charlie beamed. And it’s as if he is turning more and more to me this week to be seen.
- At what age does a child begin to live their own life?
- At what age do we see our children living their lives opposed to preparing to live them?
Length: 1:17 minutes
This interview is part of longer one on SAFM radio. The longer one can be heard here
I found last weeks lessons very tough and emotional. I feel part of nurturing your children’s self esteem is evaluating your own childhood. I have been guilty of the same things as my parents by rote praising. I don't think they have been believing the praise.
Like mother like sons. I have really concentrated on acknowledging and describing my kids little daily achievements. the results have been heart warming. I had my first opportunity on Wednesday morning.
While I was trying to get ready for the day Jack and Theodore were playing nearby and having a really wonderful time. Jack was being really gentle and caring with Theodore and sharing his little treasures, (not the usual behaviour) I said to Jack that he was a really wonderful brother. I saw how well he was sharing his things and being gentle with his little brother.
He looked at me and said "I know mommy" so I told him I just wanted him to know that I had noticed how sweet he was being. His little face lit up and he just said thanks and carried on. He has definitely been playing in a gentler way with Theodore since then. There have been numerous little successes like this but this is the one that stands out.
Johanna (aged 5) and Emily (aged 8) began arguing about a teddy bear that each child was convinced was theirs. My support and belief in their individual stories was exuberantly campaigned. I listened for a while and thought about how I was going to support the girls in resolving this conflict on their own.
Ruth: ‘’It seems that both of you think that the teddy bear is yours. I have never seen that teddy bear before so I think that it would be best if you two find a solution to this problem. I know that you can sort things out.’’
I then left their space and continued with what I was doing. After about 10 minutes I heard laughter and went back to the girls.
Ruth: ‘’I can see that you have both sorted out your problem.
Johanna & Emily (smiling): ‘’Yes and we didn’t need you.’’
Ruth: ‘’Great, well done.’’
I have noticed a real difference this week. The change, not surprisingly, has come from a change in my attitude. Brandon needed to have blood drawn on Monday and a painful injection today. Instead of getting frustrated and telling him that I know it hurts but he has no choice, I really listened to him.
While in the car going for the blood tests he was very upset, screaming that he didn't want to go and that it would hurt. I was honest with him and said: "Yes it would hurt but not for very long. I know you are scared and that is ok. It's not nice for you to have to have injections, I would be nervous too. I will be with you the whole time and help you through it."
While the crying continued he was not quite so hysterical and neither was I. He got over it much quicker than usual. I felt more confident in supporting him. Although there wasn't much of a change in behaviour it was a definite improvement as there was greater understanding from me.
I have realised that it is not just getting them to listen and do what I need them to do but being willing to listen to them and let them do what they need to do sometimes, even if it is not the best thing at the time for me.
I watch this clip to remind me of what happens when children don't have consistent boundaries. And if you feel you are in this same position, then the session on Setting Effectvie boundaries will really help you out.
This morning, my son Brian, (2 and a half years old), wanted pink pops in his bowl. But the box was finished and he was really upset and started crying. I used the skills of giving fantasy and said, "You really want pink pops for breakfast today, hey?"
"I am sorry Brian the pink pops are finished but imagine 6 boxes of pink pops coming down from the sky and lots of pink pops pouring down into your bowl. That would be really great, hey?" The crying was history and his eyes were lighting up with excitement.
I carried on with questions as to what it would be like for him, “And if lots of different cereals could pour down, which ones would you choose?"
"Pink pops... and Special K... and Pronutro, and Cheerio’s".
The pink pops drama had swiftly come to an end.
This is a fascinating and humerous look at how some discpline scenarios have changed, for better or for worse. Are our modern parenting styles and techniques going to back fire on us as predicted here?
This afternoon, my daughter's play date friend, Mary (5 year old), did not want to go home. She badly wanted to go with us to a friend’s house, Belinda, for a swim. She started crying and closing herself down.
Her mom started explaining to her that they needed to go home because they also had a special visitor at their house. Although the mom was squatting down and was at eye-level to her child, (she is a very tall woman), it did not make her daughter stop crying at all.
So I said: " It sounds like you really want to go to Belinda's house, don't you?"
"Yes!" she replied.
"And it seems that you are sad that you are not going."
"Yes", she replied again. The crying had reduced considerably and she was looking at me now. I said, "Well I've got an idea. Let's organize a visit to Belinda’s for next week. Which day would you like to go?”
Her mom said Wednesday was good, so I continued with Mary, "How does Wednesday sound to you?".
She replied: "Good, " and she was calm again. The mom was very impressed with my new skills.
This modern song captures the essence of what a parent wishes for in their child after they themselves have battled through life.
Childhood is not always fair, nor kind, nor filled will fond memories.
This is what drives us to be our best selves. We promise our children they will have a childhood better than the one we had ourselves.
David was very upset in the morning before school as it was raining and it was his class’s turn to go on the scooters and go-carts, and the rain meant there would be no outside play and thus they would not get a turn on the scooters that week.
I said that I wished that I had a huge magic wand that I could wave and that all the clouds would disappear and the sun would come out so that he would definitely have a chance on the scooters. His face lit up, and he said, “What happened if by mistake, instead of making the clouds disappear, you turned yourself into a frog – then how would you hold the wand”.
We were laughing and giggling and chatting away discussing the magic wand etc and within a couple of minutes the scooters were long forgotten.
The quick fix for being an empowered and emotionally intelligent parent is very simple, but just not that easy. Do you have what it takes to take on your own development?
Length: 1:14 minutes
This interview is part of longer one on SAFM radio. The longer one can be heard here
- Do your children sometimes fight over petty issues?
- Do your children complain about things not being fair between them?
- One moment they are getting on well, and the next they are at each other's throats.
This interview took place in 2010 leading up to a Siblings with Success workshop.
Length: 15:20 minutes
Fenn has been really unhappy this week and I tired the skills of listening and fantasy. I am so surprised about how well this works.
Fenn was crying because of staying at home around the swimming pool instead of going to the beach and sea. I first conveyed to him my understanding that he thought that the sea was nicer than being in the swimming pool water (in other words making him feel understood
We were outside enjoying the sunshine over the weekend when I suggested to Jane (age 5) and Betty (age 8) that we put down a blanket so that I could do the henna tattoos on their tummies that they had been asking for. Both girls immediately expressed that they wanted to be painted first.
I just listened, hoping they would resolve the conflict on their own – they did not. I started by acknowledging that I understood that they both liked to be first and asked them how they thought we could solve this so that both girls were happy and without me having to find the solution for them.
They both thought for a while and then went straight back to ‘’I want to be first’’. I felt that they were not going to be able to find a solution on their own so I offered them ideas on what the other child could do while the first tattoo was being done, suggestions like catching butterflies with the fishing net, sitting and watching the tattoo design to decide if they wanted the same or something different or maybe colouring in on the blanket while I was busy.
Betty then decided it was ok that Jane go first but as soon as Betty did not express her interest in going first anymore Jane decided that she didn’t mind not going first either and wanted Betty to be first. Betty then ended up going first while Jane watched and both girls were happy once I had finished both tummies.
The girls were obviously unable to resolve the conflict without some interference from me but something happened that resulted in all of us being ok with the situation. What I found very interesting was that as soon as Jane, the younger child, heard Betty express no further desire to be first, she lost interest in being first – almost as if there was no longer a battle of their wills, and Jane then really wanted Betty to be first.
Michelle needed to shower, but had dirty hands which she, being only three and a half years old, wanted to first wash in the basin. The shower was already running and I had wanted her to get in and wash her hands there. (Silly little things one fights about , hey?)
Instead of doing what I usually do, which is to pick her up, kicking and screaming and plonking her in the shower, (and having a distraught child for hours afterwards), I said " Michelle, I'm cross that I am not being listened to. At the same time washing hands in the basin would waste precious water. So, I'm turning off the shower and going away for five minutes so I can cool down. I'll come and help you shower when I'm feeling calmer.'
Which I did, without confrontation or resentment. Just do something different - very powerful!