Don’t you just hate it when you think you have started understanding your children and all your tools are working and then they go and switch things up on you? Or am I the only one? I am sure I am not alone. Changing your parenting tool kit is frustrating and confusing to say the least.
There are so many great resources out there, so many FABULOUS resources but it can also be daunting to work out what is best for you as a family. No two families are alike. No children are alike. And what works for someone else might not be ideal for you. Argh! What do you do?
Trial and error my friends. Trial and error. You give something a shot and see if it works. Maybe it works for one of your children. Maybe it was a complete and utter failure. It doesn’t mean YOU were a failure. It just didn’t work. That’s ok.
WHAT SHOULD BE IN YOUR TOOL KIT?
What are some things that are recommended to be in your tool kit? I have seen lists of 50 things, even 100 things! Wow! As a person who likes lists this seems overwhelming. Can I remember all those? No. Do I need all of them? No. As I said, you have to make the decision for you. But here are some things we can think over and use as we feel fit (I don’t necessarily agree with some of them and some of them contradict others in the list).
In no particular order :
- Compliment your children and speak positively over them
- Avoid pampering
- Take time to train your children
- Time out
- Teach children what to do
- Be solution driven
- Be positive parents
- Act without words
- Limit screen time
- Pay attention and listen
- Provide structure and boundaries
- Don’t provide restrictions
- Be calm and speak with a gentle tone of voice
- Positive reinforcement
- Manage anxiety
- Communicate with respect
- Teach your child to make mistakes and follow through on consequences
- Distract and redirect
- Don’t use phrases such as “good job”
And there are so many more.
NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION
I am often a fly by the seat of my pants parent when it comes to dealing with outbursts of emotion. Some of my best ideas seem to come when my children are melting down and just can’t control themselves. I have developed a couple of things that have been working well. I shared them in my Teaching Feelings vlog post. One I call “The Diggle Technique”, named after my daughter for whom this was originally developed. It can also be called “Scoop, squish and throw away”. Then one day I suddenly changed up what I was doing. This led to “Fart It Out”. Both still work well. We still use them fairly frequently. I like to make people laugh when emotions get to be too much. I have found that these help to shift the anger to laughter and that is always a good thing.
But suddenly the other week neither of those worked. My parenting tool kit was failing me. I was feeling my frustration levels rise as I struggled to help K calm down. I still don’t really know what made me do what I did, but it worked and has now become a tool that works.
TURDS AND FLOWERS
If you don’t know me, we use the term “turd” in our house. It is actually a good term – a turd stinks up a room and no one likes to be around it, let alone play with it, so it is just best to get rid of the turd and make everything nice again.
In the midst of this meltdown, when the option to fart it out was not acceptable and I was feeling like yanking my hair out. I had 2 main options – to walk away or to lose my temper completely. Both of those weren’t realistic. As I looked down at the floor and took some deep breaths I found a discarded drinking straw (another thing that irks me – why do they leave everything on the floor??). I picked it up and turned to K and said “This is my magic wand and it can turn turds into beautiful flowers. Would you like to be a beautiful flower?” When she stopped screaming at me and said yes, I asked her 3 things: what flower do you want to be? What color do you want to be? What do you want to smell like?
Once I had those answers I sat her on my lap and said (to this effect because I can’t remember my exact words or her answers) “Oh my goodness, you really do smell like a turd and NO ONE wants to be around a turd. We need to make this better. So, this is my word. You are no longer a turd. You are a beautiful red rose who smells like strawberries and cream!” I then tapped her on the head with my wand and announced that she was no longer a turd. For effect I sniffed her all over. At this she was smiling and then ready to make things right (apologize for her attitude and behavior).
SILLY CAN HELP
This has become part of our repertoire and both girls know that I would much rather them come to me and say they need to be a flower than act like a turd. I have performed many magical flower transformations in this season of shelter at home and quarantine. The important thing to me is that they are recognizing that their behavior is unacceptable and they need to make the choice to change it. And if something silly can turn things around then the Mummy is happy, the Papa is happy, and the world is a much better place where you don’t have to receive consequences you don’t like for crappy attitudes.
PARENTING TOOLS ARE FOREVER CHANGING
My parenting tool kit is forever changing and I am sure there would be some child psychologists and parenting “experts” that would be shaking their head at me. But you know what? I am doing what works for us as a family and if I am seeing behaviors change and our family being more settled then I will continue to come up with random acts of parenting that might seem silly – but they totally work!