Okay, Dawg. I’m watching American Idol as I type this. I think this is the 7th episode I’ve watched this season. I’m sort of an “idle” Idol fan. If I happen to be avoiding certain growing mounds of festering house chores on any given Tuesday night or I’ve spent so much time “parenting” my 3-year-old that my brain is rattling around loose in my head, I turn on the tube.
Maybe it’s just cathartic to watch someone else get ripped on. I don’t know. We’ve been having a few parenting “issues” lately. Every time we think we’ve got things pretty much figured out, Laylee throws us another curve ball. If nothing else, parenting is making us humble.
Okay. American Idol is over and there’s nothing not-icky on TV so I can continue to type this. First, I must say that Katharine McPhee was hands down the best performer tonight. I don’t know what type of crazy corned-beef hash-pipe they’re passing around at that judges table.
So, the parenting. Laylee’s been getting more confident in her ability to exert her own authority and only do something if SHE “becides” it’s a good idea. Our instincts are to get all authoritarian-I’m-the-boss-of-you on her and verbalize her into submission.
However, our advanced verbal skills are no match for her lungs, stubbornness and flailing appendages. How do you “make” someone go to sleep (in a “they”-won’t-take-your-kids-away-from-you sort of way)?
I spoke with a family therapist who is a follower of Adlerian parenting philosophies and he suggests not fighting back unless what they’re doing is a real hazard, thus taking the “sails out of their wind” when they have nothing to push against.
So two nights ago when she was dancing naked in the hall with the light on and a washcloth on her head at 11:00pm, we ignored her. At 5:00am, Dan found her out of her pull-ups with a big mess on the floor. I consider that a hazard. She had also stacked up several containers, forming a precarious tower with which to scale her tall dresser. Also a hazard.
Yesterday I started madly reading the first of four books our therapist friend had suggested, Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen. I was seriously nervous that it would be one of those hippy-dippy, positive-at-all-costs, feel-the-love method books. “You just kicked Mommy in the head, darling. What did I do to make you feel that way? Please stop causing Mommy blunt head trauma, sweet little muffin-bum, child of the earth.” I really annoy myself when I speak in third person.
We’re not major authoritarians but we definitely believe that children need limits and we serve them better acting as parents than pretending we’re all just buddies, hanging out in this little frat-condo we’re so lucky to cohabitate.
So far I really like the book, shockingly so. Dr Nelsen talks a lot about showing respect for your children and expecting it in return. She also talks about natural and logical consequences, kindness and firmness at the same time, mutual respect, encouragement, and the role of chores and responsibility from an early age.
One good point she brings up is that traditional “punishment” just makes a child feel resentment, desire for revenge, rebelliousness or retreating with a possible reduction in self-esteem. How do you feel when someone corrects or berates you, showing no kindness or respect? Children feel the same way. They’re human too…well, most of them. SURPRISE!
I also like her because she says that if any of her suggestions go against your parental instincts, don’t do them. I love a parenting book that takes into account that I am a fully developed adult-type person with a brain who has actually met my children and might know what they need. I will keep reading and let you know what I make of it all.
As for this moment, I should probably attempt to clean up some of the dresser drawers and their contents that are currently strewn about my home. I removed the hazardous dresser and tall bookshelf from Laylee’s room and have been shuffling furniture around for the safety of all concerned.
Every surface in my house is covered in books, clothing, the personal effects of several Disney princesses and Desitin…which brings me to a point — American Idol. Isn’t there ANYTHING else on TV right now?
(For a little fun, I’ve included a picture of the outfit she “becided” to wear to her playdate today. It’s a little too WWF for my personal taste but it did look fairly smashing when she added her bouncy pink Airwalks.)