Thursday, February 9, 2012

Communicative Parenting

Last week in my Empowered Parenting class, we talked about how important it is to be on the same page and to be open with your co-parent. This week we talked about transferring that communication to your kids.

We read the bible passage about Moses and the burning bush which I was having a hard time with -- however, we worked through it as a group and this is what I learned:

When God wanted Moses' attention, he used something important. Then to engage him in a conversation, he used Moses' name. God gave Moses very clear instructions about how to approach "Remove your sandals for you are on holy ground." He expected Moses' respect and got it.

1. Get your kid's attention
2. Use their name - get on their level, use eye contact, a softer voice, a touch etc.
3. Give clear, concise instructions
4. If you expect respect, you will get it

We learned a really good acronym too: HEAR

H - Use Humility
When you Aiden is frustrated, I will tell him about how sometimes I get frustrated too. Everyone gets frustrated. It's ok, we will get through it together. When you show that you "get it" and that "you're on their side" kids will open up and ask for help.

E - Be Efficient
Give your kid a tool that they can use right away, since this is religious based, we immediately talked about praying as a tool. For Aiden, I mostly just want him to know that my assistance is always available.

A - Affirm
Always offer encouragement, but make sure it is honest. If Aiden does what I ask but maybe only half way - say he picks up his play-doh but doesn't wipe off the table, I can say, "Thank you for helping, it makes Mommy really happy, but do you think there are things we can do a little better?"

R- Respond
This goes back to the "anger interrupter" - don't react, instead, take a breath, then respond constructively. Not only when Aiden does something wrong but when he is in need. Last week at McDonald's a bigger, less well mannered child (can you tell this made me angry?) took his happy meal toy from him on the play ground. When Aiden came crying, I could feel my protective mother-lion kick in. But instead, I took Aiden to that little boy and together we asked, "Excuse me, is that my toy, maybe you took it by mistake?"

Of course the little boy denied it and then told his parents that Aiden "gave" it to him, so it wasn't the ideal result, but we calmly reacted to the situation together. Then Uncle Erik went and got him a new, cooler toy.

Anyway, a big piece of the HEAR thing, which Steve and I have always struggled with is remembering:
Kids don't think, talk, or reason like adults - often they don't learn to do so until they are 20+ years old.

Another sad/generational note arose in class last night - when we talked about toxic verbal weapons. So many parents in the class felt like their parents were extremely mean and hard on them, and the youth pastor even commented that in his teen-group at the church, he often hears kids say, "I wish I wasn't so hard on myself..." Unfortunately, they grow up to do this to themselves when parents use:
Hurtful Teasing
Subtle Put-Downs
Play Historian
Project Failure
Fault Finding

The biggest eye-opener for me was "Broadcasting" I am terrible...I constantly tell Steve about Aiden's mis-behavior when he is around and can hear me say, "SOMEBODY got in trouble at school for yelling today..."

We should deal with these things quietly when Aiden isn't around, when he knows he has been wrong, it's over and dealt with, he shouldn't have to relive it. I am his safe place and I vow to always be that.

I stayed longer after class to talk about Aiden's whining with Lori (leading the class) and she gave me a really good idea. Especially because of Aiden's speech barrier, he will get more and more frustrated. It's important to think of Aiden's emotions as a basket. When he can't effectively communicate - it's like his basket is already full. So when he gets frustrated and then I in turn get frustrated, he has no more room in his basket for listening and cooperating, so instead of telling him what he's doing wrong I will tell him simply how to correct it.

"When you can ask me in a respectful way for something reasonable, I will meet you with a reasonable response" -- When Aiden has a fit about not being picked up...Aiden, if you can ask me nicely for what you want I will be more than happy to do it.

It was kind of an overwhelming class but I took a lot away from it and Aiden and I are now using our new house rules:

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