Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Awed to Change

I watched my friend with curiosity the other day as I observed her parenting. The girls and I were over visiting while our husbands went to watch a movie. Each of us have three kids, with Nikelle being the oldest, so it was obvious that situations would arise where we would be needed to guide and assist.

My parenting style is a lot like a volcano. I like to go about my day all the while pretending the whining, screaming, crying, and incessant questions don't exist until finally my irritation erupts and I explode! I don't believe this characterizes my parenting as a whole, but it does happen more often than I'd like. This is why I was so curious as I watched my friend interact with her kids.

One by one, each of her children would have a moment where they would be typical kids. The whining, complaining, tattling, or fighting would begin. She would calmly tell them to walk over to the bench in the hallway (she might have referred to it as the time-out bench) until they were calm enough to discuss things and handle things in an appropriate manner.

My first thought was that I should have a time-out bench in the hallway for myself. Maybe that would stop my outbursts. In all sincerity, I was more than just a little curious as I watched my friend. I might have commented on her calming presence in the moment but my mind was just spinning in attempt to figure out how to change my parenting techniques (per se) and experience the peace I was witnessing in her home.

As my friend directed her children to the bench, they went. They were still screaming or crying as they were before but they went fairly immediately. The child would then stay there until he or she calmed down. At that moment, they would then inform their mom that they were calm and the situation would be handled in just that fashion, calmly. At one moment I even witnessed her daughter walk over to her son, hug him and say, "I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?" As I said, I was more than just a little curious, I was in awe.

Since that visit a few weeks ago, I have tried implementing this type of approach in my home. When Jaycie begins to whine, I attempt to look her in the eyes and as calmly as I can, inform her of her choices. That includes that she can go to her room until she quits the whining, crying and screaming. This means I have to be willing to stop what I am currently doing or put the baby down in order to carry her to her room, but it has made a world of difference. I don't know so much that it has changed Jaycie. What it has changed is myself. I am not feeling the pressure building inside of me leading to an eruption of anger as I normally would. I am able to act a little more calmly and eventually, Jaycie will come downstairs better able to handle the situation as well. Naturally, there is more peace in our home.

I don't always respond the way I should. Early this morning, before the time children should be awakening, Jaycie started screaming as I was just quieting down my coughing baby. Jaycie was not crying out of fear or sickness. She simply was angry that some toys were not were she put them when she went to bed. Rod went to her but could not get her to quiet down. I was overtired and extremely irritated. When the baby awoke, the eruption occurred.

I walked into Jaycie's room (stomped might be a better description) and I think my exact words were, "If you don't stop, I'm going to beat your butt!" Right. Those empty threats are always helpful. I followed it up a little more rationally with, "I will start to take away blankets if you continue screaming like that." That got her to stop rather immediately and I was able to go back to rocking the baby.

This morning, I discussed more with my daughter the way her screaming and not allowing her father to help her is unacceptable. More than ever, I am realizing that her behavior is a mirror of my own. I need to implement more positive behavior examples that I see in others so my children can see them as well.

Lord, as my screaming and lack of self-control are unacceptable to you, please help me to change. Help me to respond with peace and love in self-control. Help me to respond in a way that pleases you.

I need to allow my Heavenly Father to help me.

1 comment:

  1. That is great that you are trying different techniques! It's wonderful that you realize that you need to try something new. I, too, tend to be calm as long as I can handle it and then I raise my voice...so I understand. When Matthew is just screaming out of control, I make him go to the time out chair or his bed until he can talk with me and that does work so keep it up, even when it's tough. It's hard being parents and we don't always make the right decisions and we're not always the best role models but showing them you're willing to try new things is a great lesson in life. I've also noticed that days when I raise my voice, Matthew will raise his and yell at his blanket or whatever so that usually keeps me in check. Knowing he's watching my every move reminds me that if I don't want him yelling at his kids, I better break this now.