So much of this is great advice, I had to share: Helping a Family Who Recently Adopted
Posts Tagged ‘pull close parenting’
I just finished one of my least favorite jobs–cleaning floors. I don’t mind doing laundry, dishes, gardening, even cleaning toilets! But I really hate sweeping, mopping and vacuuming. I put it off, am grateful for our hardwood floor that hides stuff and curse the older kitchen floor that shows everything. When I finally make myself get started and just do it, I realize that it’s really not that bad and am glad to have clean floors when it’s over.
Today as I finished the hated kitchen floor, it occurred to me that this same phenomenon happens with parenting sometimes, especially parenting kids who have needs that go beyond the typical. Here are a few examples:
Establishing a parent as the primary caregiver. It’s hard to shuffle work schedules, put a career on hold, change jobs or start working from home. It’s also hard to settle into change of pace and meet the new demands (and yes, sometimes boredom) of doing the hard work of daily parenting. But, we know it’s so worth it to be there building those important foundational pieces of brain development and accompanying skills like trust, cause and effect thinking, impulse control, empathy, the ability to self-regulate emotions, etc…. I have never met a parent yet who regretted putting in the extra time with their child, just like I’ve never met anyone who regrets having clean floors.
Starting AND MAINTAINING Time In. I’ve talked to many parents in the 13+ yearss since we first started presenting the idea of “Time In” in our live seminars. Once folks understand why it makes sense and that it really does establish parenting authority, competency and boundaries, they are anxious to put it into use in their homes. It’s not much fun to get started and it takes self-discipline and a commitment to see the job through, but it’s so worth it in the end. Much like cleaning floors, only doing Time In halfway just highlights the mess.
Utilizing professionals when necessary. I don’t think any of us intend to avoid using professionals to help our families anymore than we intend to live in a pigsty and yet, when we put off actually making the appointment (or pulling out the broom!) in essence, that’s what happens. Similarly, just as it’s not enough to pull the vacuum cleaner out and then not follow through actually vacuuming, it’s not enough to visit a professional and then not follow through *all the way* with a new parenting plan, therapy or other recommendations they have, provided they make sense given the research and what you know about your individual child.
Being proactive. This is the first piece of the parenting plan we highlight in Because They Waited. It is so, so important! Picture a small sticky spot on the floor. If not cleaned up, it gets tracked around, dirt and gunk sticks to it and before long it’s just a bigger mess! Same goes with issues that our kids have. Most kids don’t come home severely impacted by their early months or years in less than optimal care–they come home with mild to moderate effects. And yet, if we procrastinate parenting to those issues in a concerted manner, those issues usually just get bigger. The look of them may change, but it’s often the same core issue just making a bigger mess.
She is the proud mommy to little 6-year-old C. who came home from China when she was about 2 years old or so. Their family was eating dinner the other night after a rough day and my friend could just see that C. was “in a mood” and really struggling to keep it together. At some point during dinner, C. asked her mama, “Do you know how some people feed their babies like an airplane?” (referring to zooming a spoonful of food toward the baby like it’s an airplane while feeding them) C. went on to ask, “Do you think you could feed me like that?” and dinner was finished with my friend feeding her big-little girl like an airplane. My friend went on to tell me that as she was feeding her daughter, she could just see the tension from the day melt out of C.
What a beautiful example of re-parenting and of a child who is learning to rely on their parent to help them regulate their emotions! Imagine if my friend was less in tune with her daughter (or didn’t have the knowledge to know what C. was really asking for) and had instead told her to feed herself like a big girl. They both would have missed out on a great opportunity to teach and learn trust, self-regulation and attunement.
How is your child asking for you to connect and parent them in a close, attuned manner?
Katie’s “The Best Way to Struggle” post got me thinking about discipline responses and how the words we choose when interacting with our kids can help us to “struggle together” or “struggle against” our child. I think responses that help us “struggle together” towards success have some common elements.
- They are focused on the present and future.
- They are stated as positively as possible
- They include some action (big or small) on the parent’s part.
Here’s one example:
“You never pick up your clothes! Every day the pile gets higher!” (Focuses on the past and = struggling against your child.)
“Your room is a mess.” (Focuses on the present and might be true, but isn’t very positive, doesn’t look to the future, and lacks action.)
“Let’s get started on cleaning up your room. We are both going to feel better when it is done.” (Focuses on the present and future, and is positively stated. This one for me = joining the struggle with my child to help them succeed.)
“Isn’t your homework done yet? What on earth have you been doing?” (past and negative)
“You are still working on your homework?!” (present and negative)
“You’re not as far along as I thought you’d be. Let’s move to the kitchen with that so I can help you get back on track while I make dinner.” (This one is focused on present and future, is positively stated and includes an action.)
and one more…
“You have been whining all day!” (past and negative)
“Stop whining!” (present and negative—This one also sets up a power struggle because we really can not make a child stop whining.)
“You are having a rough day! Come walk close to me so I can help you. “ (present and future focused, positive and includes action)
I’m trying this myself and have to say it’s a challenge (at least for me) to stay out of the past! Give it a try yourself during your parenting interactions today. Listen to yourself as you interact with your child. Do the words you choose help to create a spirit of “we’re in this together” or do they encourage more of a “it’s me against you” feeling?
Parents and professionals often refer to a child “struggling”. It might be struggling with anger, whining, depression, behavior, peers, falling asleep, etc…..
It occurred to me the other day that ideally it’s not just our child struggling with [fill in the blank] but that we are struggling together.
Are you parenting in ways that allow you to struggle with your child? If not, chances are you’re struggling against them.