I had to apologise to Lynden today - my more tricky middle, Aspergerish child. On Monday, when it was hot, I had parked quite far from the school and he had to walk a block with no shoes on. He moaned and groaned and moaned and groaned and nothing I said could stop the whining.
I had promised an ice cream or ice bite, but when I got home I said " that's it - No Ice creams for kids who moan and complain so much". While I said that I noticed that I was really mean and that I felt pure revenge. He was really mad.
Today I apologised to him - told him that I was wrong not to buy him an ice cream without warning him first that that would be a consequence. He appreciated the apology, and I got a hug tonight - quite a rare occurrence.
The course has been so good for us. I'm glad we have done it together as our different parenting styles were a real source of conflict in our marriage and neither of us really knew how to right it. I've still got a long way to go, but the mood in the house has changed and there is a whole lot less frustration and aggression all round. I didn't think that would be possible.
With Johanna enjoying her evening bath she requested I sit with her and have a conversation about the day. We shared our individual highlights and I then decided to consciously acknowledge her for the ease with which she is saying good-bye to me in the mornings before school.
Ruth: ‘’I think that it is really great that you are saying good-bye to me before school so easily and happily AND that you are finding your own place on the mat without teacher support’’.
Johanna (big smile): ‘’I know, thanks.’’
Our conversation then continued for a while before I communicated that it was time to get out the bath.
Ruth: ‘’I have put your pyjamas on the heater and they will be warm now. Would you like to get dressed next to the heater or next to the fire?"
Johanna: ‘’Great job mom’’.
Ruth (puzzled expression)
Johanna: ‘’Great job mom for putting my pyjamas on the heater.Rreally mom, I mean it and I want to get dressed next to the heater please’’.
Now it was my turn for a big smile!
Charmaine and I were on our way to fetch Yvette from school. We arrived and were about to get out of the car when I noticed that she had taken her shoes and socks off en route. I started with: “Come on Charmaine, let’s put your shoes on before we get out of the car and was met with the usual: “No, don’t need my shoes on!”
I started to try and explain that it was cold and wet outside and her feet needed to stay warm and dry but wasn’t getting anywhere. So instead I said, ‘I know, why don’t we let your feet have a competition? Let’s see which foot can get its shoe on the fastest. You help your feet get the shoes on and I’ll count and see which one wins.” Charmaine’s face lit up and there was a mad scramble to get her shoes on. Job done, quick and easy and so much more fun!
This week has been a particularly stressful week, compared to last week which went rather smoothly. At some point this week I felt despondent, disempowered and some what disappointed. I was questioning myself, the course etc.
It was as if Ethan went to bed as 'Ethan the good' and woke up the next morning as 'Ethan the Horrible'.... He has this sense of entitlement and control, things must only be done on his terms. He is a rather challenging child on an average day so as you can imagine things have been rather tense.
This is from an eight year old and I dread to think of how a fifteen year old would be like. Joshua on the other hand is making up for lost time and has felt the need to irritate his brother, he seems to be getting a smug kick out of it. He has his own sense of entitlement.
This morning I was pondering the whole situation and broke the last month down into parts and realized that it all part of the process. This is how it is meant to be for us and I can now see the bigger picture and do not have unrealistic expectations.
We have shifted as a family and are all going through major shifts and adjustments of our own. I look at Brad and how he has had to shift in such a dramatic way in such a short period of time to keep up with Ethan and Joshua. I have had to be on my toes and try to be one step ahead of the whole family to keep everyone grounded with the progression of change.
I now can look back and think that in fact we have come pretty far and we have not too badly at all. Yes things are not perfect but they will never and we are learning “ to make lemonade when handed lemons” with the tools we have.
- What makes a good parent?
- How does a parent create awareness and insight?
- What to do when you want your child to cooperate with you quickly and effortlessly?
An interview covering a wide range of topics and skill sharings. Skills on praise, cooperation, parening beliefs, awarenesses, etc.
Length 54 minutes
Eventhough this clip is about autism, I believe it stands true for every child. We must be aware of what we are judging and how we are labeling our children. When we come from a space of wanting to understand, then maybe then we can really support our children in becoming the beings they wish to become.
Do SOMETHING DIFFERENT . That's resonated with my soul, and there have been lots of little chances to implement it.
Adrian, now 7, doesn't listen. Ever. This morning I called him for breakfast, and he ignored me. I called again. He ignored again. Usually I would call another 3 times before my husband would come and shout at Adrian for not listening and I would shout at my husband for shouting at Adrian – I know this is silly, but it is how it has been for us.
Do something different I thought.
So I walked over to where Adrian was, and looked him in the eye and said in a firm voice " I have called you twice and you haven't come. I need you to come and eat your breakfast now, and to come when I first call in the future."
He didn't fuss or scream like he usually does, but came and ate his breakfast, and my husband didn't need to get cross, and its a much better dynamic. I know as I do it more and more Adrian will come earlier and earlier. There’s light at the end of my tunnel.
Positive recognition and descriptive praise: We know that it is important, but we aren't taught the HOW to do it.
And do you fall into the trap of using it to get what you want?
Length: 2:17 minutes
This interview is part of longer one on SAFM radio. The longer one can be heard here
Jane was standing outside her bedroom door not wanting to come in to go to bed. I was waiting patiently on the inside after having tried sharing information, giving choices and describing how I feel which made me decide to try some humour and imagination.
I pretended to be an airline hostess and Jane’s bedroom was the aeroplane. We were about to close the doors and fly to Thailand so I needed her to come aboard. At first she just smiled, looked at me and said: “No thanks. I don’t want to come aboard”.
But I know she loves flying long distance and really wants to go back to Thailand, so I pretended to talk to some people on the plane about what food to expect on the plane and the movie choices.
Within a minute Jane came in willingly and we climbed into bed and continued our role playing of passenger and hostess for a little while longer.
The bedtime was a little later than I had wanted it to be but I really had fun and felt connected at the end of the day. Jane even slept better than she usually does!
As I mentioned in the workshop last week, I have found each segment of the course to be very dense and loaded with food for thought. It has had a significant impact for me in rethinking how I communicate with my children and more specifically what I communicate to them.
Last week I chose to look for more appropriate ways to praise Jenny as often what I had been saying and doing previously left her feeling frustrated. As occasions presented themselves, I described things clearly for her and gave her recognition by choosing specific words, that even if she did not understand them, she then asked me what they meant.
During these times of more cognitive praise Jenny was far more interested in what I had to say and would actually stop what she was doing to listen to what I was saying. My general shift in language in the home has contributed to Jenny's awareness of language and how it can work for her.
One evening while I was tying up her hair for bath, she told me specifically how she is a 'problem-solver' and a 'listener'. In both cases she gave me examples of how she fulfills these roles in school. This week has again been empowering. The most remarkable change for me is that I'm finding it far easier to remain calm even when angry.
Using the skill of 'having my anger and not being my anger' has helped me to work through difficult issues with the children. By clearly stating upfront where my boundary lay with certain situations the children were able to respond and not feel intimidated by my anger.
We have all been much happier and finding it easier to look for alternative solutions and then engaging them to diffuse difficult situations. Thank you for your insights and I look forward to this week's session.
The social skill of taking turns is one that takes time, patience and many long faces to develop. On this day, we had our play-dough table nestled up against the wall and only two seats for the children to sit at.
After about ½ an hour, some children came up to me complaining that they wanted a turn at the table. I asked them if they had spoken to the other two at the table and they said that they had. I thought that it was that time again to start developing sharing skills.
“Okay guys, we have two children playing dough and another two who would like to play. What shall we do?”
Both parties voiced that they each wanted to play. We were heading towards a system of time allocation when another child (5yrs old) who was standing nearby piped up and said.
“I have a good idea. Why don’t they move the table away from the wall and put another two chairs on the other side, then all four children can sit at the table?”
My mouth hung open for a while till I said, “That sounds like a good idea. What do you all think?” The children agreed and they organised themselves.
As I was walking away from the table I mentioned to the idea-giver, “Ashwyn, that was a good idea. You thought a lot about how they could solve their problem. Now they can all play together.”
He responded, “I know, I have lots of good ideas. And I have lots more at home.”
I have had to practice this more on Johanna than Emily as my child has gone back to her Mum. I do not have a specific list of examples I wish to relate as I have found that acknowledgement and praise presents itself more often than I thought. Often for many little actions.
I have had to practice very hard at using more effective words in the act of recognition. I have been teaching Johanna to put her hand up when she coughs. When she started observing this request I told her what a polite little girl she was. So I think in terms of my growth, my style is changing and I am beginning to break some daft ways.
Oh another one! Emily is very skilled at making tiny little models out of crazy clay. When I acknowledge what she shows me I am now using “how dexterous you are”. She did not know what this word meant but, she does now. So this exercise of using meaningful words to describe an action worthy of praise or recognition is more specific and actually teaches the child more about her own skills and what the skill or action is in language.
Perhaps children may learn quicker through this form of praise what it is we are trying to teach them. How can we expect them to be “polite” if they can’t associate actions that make one polite?
I had 2 instances this weekend where I used the skills we have been exposed to so far. The challenge for me was that in both instances parents of the other children were present. I felt very uncomfortable as I knew what went through their minds whilst they kept quite through the process. However, I was successful in both instances, phewwww.....
Saturday night Cailin and Jessie-Lee both wanted Cailin's little purse full of money. Jessie-Lee had it at first but was soon snatched from her by Cailin. Jessie-Lee started crying so I told Cailin that I will keep the purse on the table as we have a challenge in that both children wanted the same thing. Cailin started shouting at Jessie-Lee with the usual: " I don't like you! I am not your best friend!"
By then we had both children crying. I asked Jessie-Lee what she would like from Cailin so that this does not happen again. She kept quite and did not want to respond. The same happened when I asked Cailin. I then told them that we will chat about it later and we will try and resolve it when they are both ready.
Cailin then smiled and said: "Let's jump on the trampoline". I knew my response would be that she can't so I tried putting it into questions. By then Jessie-Lee was also very excited to go outside. I asked the girls how we could jump when it is dark outside - Cailin was very quick and said: "Let's take the torch"..... I was outsmarted.
So I asked them how we could jump when it is freezing cold outside - Cailin answered: "Let's put our jerseys on"...... outsmarted AGAIN..... I then asked how we could jump if children have snotty noses - Cailin again answered: "Let's get the tissues" and off she went to get the toilet paper.
Jessie-Lee and Cailin blew their noses time after time until their noses were stone dry. Cailin then saw the purse on the table and said to Jessie-Lee whilst taking it: "Come Jessie-Lee let's share the money and let's play". Jessie-Lee very happily joined her on the floor.
I then knew that this was the time to conclude the conflict resolution. I asked Cailin what she would like from Jessie-Lee in future so what happened earlier can be avoided and she answered: "I want Jessie-Lee to share the purse". I asked Cailin to tell that to Jessie-Lee which she did and she added spontaneously: "Sorry for shouting at you". I asked Jessie-Lee the same and she said that they must share. They left the table and played like old friends again.
In the early part of last week it seemed liked there was a lot of conflict in our family and by the end of the day I was feeling quite drained. Negative thoughts and feelings kept coming through. For example, “Am I not learning anything? Or at least am I not using the tools I am learning effectively?” “Why does everything feel like such a challenge?”
But by the second half of the week I started seeing such a change. It became evident that the girls had actually learnt so much from the conflict of the earlier part of the week. With this I realized that there will always be conflict and communicating effectively does not mean that there will not be conflict. As long as we keep resolving things and learning from the conflict situations then we are actually on the right track.
When I went into the ‘From punishment to guidance’ session I found myself feeling so chuffed to realize that in many instances I actually had been doing things in the ways that were suggested. It was so gratifying to realize that what we are learning is becoming a natural way to respond to situations.
Of course I fully expect to have many, much more challenging situations along the way but I am now beginning to understand that it is all part of the journey and that in itself is very liberating!
My husband and I put many of the tools you have given us to practise in the holidays and it made an enormous difference to our family interactions. The result was a harmonious and relatively stress free holiday for all of us.
I can't even begin to tell you how our family dynamics have changed since participating in your course - we are profoundly grateful to you for empowering us as more effective parents with your wealth of knowledge which you are able to convey with such warmth and humour.
- I don't want to use the negatvie techniques my parents used on me.
- I want to find other ways to parent than my parents did on me
We spend more formal time to learn to drive a car than to communicate effectively with your chlid.
Length: 3:34 minutes
This interview is part of longer one on SAFM radio. The longer one can be heard here