Monday, April 27, 2015

R-E-D-I-R-E-C-T: No-Drama Discipline Ch. 6

Not gonna lie - this was my big take-away from this chapter was one of my favorite parenting gems of all time:

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself.

Ok, they didn't explicitly said that, Ice Cube did.

What the authors did say:

"Keep Calm and Carry On...Not a bad mantra to have at the ready when your child goes ballistic - or before you do....How you respond to your child's behavior will greatly impact how the whole situation unfolds." p167-168

Because I have been quoting Ice Cube for the past mmphhhhh years...that's where my brain went.

For example: "Check yourself before you wreck yourself - because getting hit by a car is bad for your health!" (Not lying - why do you think my kids stop at curbs? I'm not a fairy...I'm *scary*)

Most often, though, I just drawl out: "Y'all best check yourselves before you wreck yourselves." Something about the Stern Southern seems to do the trick.

They do give some handy strategies for helping you R*E*D*I*R*E*C*T after you've all checked yourselves - of course they go *way* more in-depth than I'm going to, but here's the list for some reference:
Reduce words, Embrace Emotions, Describe - don't preach, Involve your child in the discipline, Reframe a no into a conditional yes, Emphasize the positive, Creatively approach the situation, and Teach Mindsight tools.

I really like the "Reduce words" part - it never works when you word-vomit all over your kids -- they just tune you out until you chill out. But if you just give them the meat of the problem, they can easily digest and respond.

Example of what not to do "You know why it's bad to hit your brother? It's bad because hands aren't for hitting they're for being nice, and art, and cooking, and also making things, and for petting animals...but only nice animals, can you imagine petting a mean animal? Imagine if you hit a mean animal. You're lucky your little brother isn't a Tiger, a tiger would only be hit once and then it would eat you up. Like in that song by Maurice Sendak that Carol King sang on that CD that I love that you only tolerate because you think it's for babies...."

Right? I tuned me out.

Better: "I won't let you hit your brother. It's not safe and it's not nice. Keep your hands to yourself and if you need help I will help you." The end. (FTR - I got the "I won't let you" gem from Janet Lansbury. I can't find the original phrase but basically she says it works because it's definitive and gives they child no room for argument. It places the parent in the role of parent and shaper of behavior. There's no need to yell or coerce - just a simple "I won't let you_____." and then put a period at the end.)

The rest of the advice in this chapter is well worth checking out. (Before you wreck out...? No? Ok.) As always, I highly suggest you do.

This is the only wreck I've got a photo of...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Flexibility and Empathy: Chapter 5 of No-Drama Discipline

So here we are for the penultimate post about the round table read of No-Drama Discipline being hosted by Natural Parents Network.

In case you've missed the first posts (both here, at NPN, and over on Code Name: Mama) I found the book trailer! It's worth a watch, for sure.

So I'm going to talk about two of the topics they cover in this chapter: empathy and flexibility. I have long felt there's an empathy deficit in the world. Too many people are so focused on what they want that they fail to see what is needed for the person in question.

(Sidenote: One of my favorite posts ever about hospitality and empathy comes from Jana Riess writing for the Religious News Service - don't let that deter you - entitled: Everything I Need to Know About Hospitality I Learned From Molly Weasley. It's full of spoilers so don't read it if you haven't read the Harry Potter series yet, but this is the gist: her son brought home an orphan and she treated him as *he* needed to be treated, which was different from her own children. And within her own children, each was treated according to their needs and unique personality. She modeled empathy and flexibility for her children.)

From the book:

"The more we give kids the opportunity to consider not only their own desires, but also the desires of others, and practice making good choices that positively impact the people around them, the better they'll be at doing so...A collaborative and respectful redirection [is] worth the effort and extra time." p.139

Checking out the instructions

Here's an example with my 2.5 yr old: we purchased a 4billion piece LEGO set last year. When completed, it would be a Winter Village and part of our Christmas decorations...and let's just say that the "expert" label wasn't lying. We pulled out the instructions, opened the 50 bags as needed, and sorted pieces into neat piles by color. We used various prep bowls and empty yogurt containers to contain the piles. Baz and I would look a few steps ahead, collect what was needed into a ramekin, and pass it to Steve, who would assemble. Walter, who didn't intuit a job for himself past sorting by color, starting undoing the sorting, pushing pieces off the table, and generally being a pain.

Option 1: throw on a movie for him to zone out to while the "big kids" assembled the LEGO.
Option 2: scold, scold, scold.
Option 3: give him a job.

Not Sorting.

We settled on Option 3. His new job was to take the particular needed piece from the waiting ramekin and hand it to Steve - where he would either help press it onto the other pieces or he would reach for the next piece.

It seems like a small thing, but we all know parents who wouldn't have seen a place for the youngest child and would have tried to distract and then scold when the distraction didn't work. The bonus is that the next weekend, when we picked up to finish the assemblage, he also picked up where he left off - this time without the preamble of mess-making. It doesn't take a Master Empathizer to see that he just wanted to be included, the trick was finding the age-appropriate way to include him. It was an instance where we succeeded.

So...flexible consistency...or as the French call it: The "cadre" (frame)

"Consistency means working from a reliable and coherent philosophy so that our kids know what we expect of then and what they should expect from us. Rigidity, on the other hand, means maintaining an unswerving devotion to rules we've set up, sometimes without having even thought them through, or without changing them as kids develop." p 147
"Rigidity is about...fear-based parenting...parenting with a goal of reducing our own anxiety and fears, rather than what will best teach our child's emerging mind and mold the developing brain." p. 149 

Flexibility within the consistency removes your fears from the equation. The fears they're talking about here are the ones that worry any single indulgence will lead to a slippery slope of bad habits (cue the people who tell you not to hold the baby too much, or co-sleep, or let them indulge in a snack...I could go on and on...) without realizing that if you allow a bit of crazy now that doesn't mean you allow it always.

Helping Daddy on the second day of assemblage

Flexibility acknowledges that accidents happen. It allows for the occasional loss of temper. It allows for boundary pushing. It allows you to see that the reason your 2 year old is throwing LEGOs on the floor is simply because he want to be included. Flexibility gives space for the parent and child to talk about why it's not ok to throw pieces, and what would be a better activity.  Rigidity sees only the LEGOs on the floor and reacts to that infraction. Rigidity allows for no discussion, only consequences.

So your Goal is to be consistent but flexible. Empathize with your child to all your to better understand where he's coming from, and work together to find a solution that works for everyone and sets up the framework for the next time that situation occurs.

And seriously, folks, every parents and/or caregiver should read this book.

Finished Product. Not pictured: Santa's Sleigh (not part of the set.) 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Connection in Action: Chapter 4 of No-Drama Discipline

People...I had this whole thing planned to write about Shark Music vs. Pasture Music...which is a GREAT thing they talk about in chapter 4 and then Walter spent Friday night from 8:30-almost midnight...and then from 2-4:45 am (I know because I finally checked the clock) doing this:

So guess what I did? We live in an apartment - the one above us is occupied and he shares his room with his I sat in his room and cajoled him to sleep...while he mocked me. MOCKED ME.

How I didn't completely lose my shit is beyond me, although I do remember consciously not looking at the clock until his eyes were closed and I was out of there because if I had done so I would have flipped out. The time for 3am shenanigans is college and I haven't been there for about a decade.

So then Saturday was a fog during which I spent a lot of time feeling guilty about not writing this review of Chapter 4: No-Drama Connection in Action....I have copious notes but they may as well have been written in swahili for all I could comprehend yesterday.

This was about all I could muster:

So that was yesterday. Last night everyone slept very well after watching Kentucky win and this morning I glanced over my notes again and then my kids...

What was on my mind from my notes: Response Flexibility:

"Response Flexibility helps you choose to be your to be your wisest self possible in a difficult moment with your child, so that connection can occur." pp. 102-3
So instead of flipping out when they decided to play Vacuum Chicken (which is where I vacuum the carpet and they see who can run in front/jump over without actually hitting it...and then run and shriek and stand on tables) and then pull bedding off one bed and put it on the other so they could be snails, I did a bit of eye-rolling and texted my BFF: "OMG, my kids are such assholes. I mean, they're just being kids and I love them and whatever...but they're still being assholes."

Then all of the stuffed animals came out...joined by ALL of their bedding...

What I wanted to do:

What I did:

And then when they started to whine about cleaning up the mess (hours later)...I wanted to:

But what I did was remind them that I warned them this mess was theirs to clean up and then I passed them off to Steve, whose mood after his 64 mile ride earlier was as close to this as a non-medicated parent can get:

And now I'm throwing together a bunch of gifs to animate the point that even when you're in the middle of reading a book about how to discipline better, sometimes you just have to meet a deadline and taking/editing/posting images of your little assholes is the last thing you want can still have learned something. At no point did I yell, I didn't slam a door, I didn't start lecturing and whining back....

But they're making dinner (Disheveled Josephs) and I'm going to do this (without the cigarette, obviously...)

Ok, also without the pearls...and the fabulous hair, makeup, wardrobe...and shit. Without the wine.

Is it bedtime yet?

PS - the other lesson to learn? Deadlines and small children mean that the other thing I'm about a decade away from is waiting until the last minute and churning out genius. No way would this post break a curve if I had to turn this in as an essay. I am clearly off my game.

(That's Charles Barkley. Watch Space Jam)
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