Recently, in my “Parenting is Heart Work” group, we talked about how some children have a VERY hard time taking “no” for an answer.
Anyone? Anyone else experience this with their child?
I’m wondering if there are parents who don’t relate to this?!?
Well, children don’t recognize that when they don’t say “Yes ma’am” or “Yes Sir” to our rules and expectations that they appear to “disrespect” our authority. They simply can’t comprehend why we would deprive them of joy…. ever. Kids are like “Wait you are my parent… you are supposed to meet all my wants and needs in my timing at all times” haha they are adorably mistaken.
But, we have a little of that in us as adults as well; so, instant gratification is not a foreign concept for us either.
Either way, we have a big responsibility to ensure that our children become civilized little beings who can communicate in healthy ways… and unfortunately sometimes we don’t exactly model healthy responses. As parents we can often be more reactive than anything else.
When Sean Patrick crosses his arms, throws himself on the floor, or loses his control, he doesn’t know that not only are his words destructive but his voice level and his body language also need to be replaced with appropriate responses.
So, I created a visual to show him how he communicates with me.
I talked to him about all the different ways we can communicate about something and I made up stories about the children in a few of the pictures. I strategically “make up” stories that are past examples of Sean Patrick’s impulsive responses.
For the picture of the demanding child crossing his arms I might say “This is Johnny. Johnny’s mommy said that he couldn’t have a gummy snack until after dinner, and Johnny said ‘NO! I want it NOW!’ Can you see what Johnny’s face and arms are doing? Do you think he is ready to listen and say “Okay mommy!” Or do you think he is going to make his problem worse? (Sean Patrick said he is not listening to his mom and he needs to get in control) . The way Johnny is speaking to his mom with a mean face and crossed arms shows his mommy that he is demanding she listen to him instead of using his words to talk about the problem. Can you tell Johnny that he can have a happy heart and wait until after dinner to get his fruit snack?”
We talk about the pictures and we also practice coping and fixing our problems AFTER we have a problem and he cools down I might say, “Sean Patrick what went wrong when we had that problem earlier? Did you try hard to calm down and talk about the problem or were you out of control?” (He usually is very honest about his emotions. After we talk about that then we practice our coping strategies: breathing, counting, walking out of the room for a minute, etc.
In the spirit of Halloween, I wanted to do an art project with my 4-year-old while my 6-year-old was at school. My middle child loves and cherishes this one-on-one time with Mommy. Jess’ post on Monday inspired us to make our own Jack-O-Lanterns, but I had a different objective in mind.
I was also inspired by a “find the differences” book I was reading with Leyson that has two near-identical pictures side by side, but with subtle differences. Each page asks you to “find (x-amount of) differences” which may be as simple as the omission of an object in the picture or a change of color, shape, size or placement of an object.
The objective of our activity was for my son to be able to both point out and fix the differences between my picture and his picture to make them the same, and also to recreate the picture I created… in this case, a pumpkin.
Materials needed: construction paper, scissors, maybe some glue after the activity 🙂
Mommy Prep: Using orange construction paper, I cut out two large pumpkin shapes, and lots of different sized rectangles*, triangles, circles, squares and other various shapes with brown, yellow and black paper.
*I cut out 4 different types of rectangle stems to bring in some vocabulary to our activity: short, long, thick, thin
Leyson first had to close his eyes (or cover his face with a blanket because I learned that I can’t trust him to keep his eyes closed) and count to twenty while I arranged the different shapes to make a face on my pumpkin. Apparently, counting to twenty now means omitting numbers 14 and 19, so we will be working on that again soon.
I started off with a simple face. Two circles for eyes, a circle for a nose, a fat, brown rectangle and a U-shape for a smiley mouth.
When he got to 20, he pulled the blanket off of his face, he had to use the remaining shapes to make his pumpkin look just like my pumpkin.
To make the project more challenging in other rounds, I layered some of the shapes such as using smaller circles on top of larger circles for the eyes.
The most difficult part of the activity was when I used only triangles to make a face and he had to figure out which direction the triangles were facing. It’s harder than it looks!
We experimented with all the different things we could learn from making pumpkins:
Feelings/Emotions: We made happy pumpkins, and sad pumpkins, and angry pumpkins, and scared pumpkins… and talked about why each pumpkin was feeling the way they were feeling.
Counting/More or Less: Sometimes Mommy’s pumpkin had 4 teeth, sometimes it had more or less.
Compare and Contrast: “What is different about the nose on your pumpkin and the nose on my pumpkin?” “Do our pumpkins have the same shaped mouth?”
Vocabulary: Colors, shapes, sizes, parts of the face
Spacial Awareness: “Are the eyes close together or far apart?” “If you put the eyes in the middle of the pumpkin, can we fit a nose and a mouth too?”
Phonemic Awareness & Writing: We segmented the sounds in pumpkin /p/ /u/ /m/ /p/ /k/ /i/ /n/… which is pretty hard to do when your child pronounces it like “po’kin” but we wrote the real word on the back of our project.
When you are finished the activity, grab some glue so you can add some Halloween decor to your house!
Who needs to buy decorations from the store, when with a little glue and tape you can make your house ready for any holiday?!
I would classify myself as a “clean as you go” mom. I am NOT a clean freak but I do like a tidy house.
I play with my kids and I pick up after my kids (admittedly) a lot.
With three under three, tidying up after my little tornadoes is an ongoing discipline. But as I approach the ages of chore-chart readiness I wanted to give my little ones a bit of familiarity with the responsibilities they can handle, and those that are age-appropriate.
So, I made a simple checklist of the things that I would like them to be responsible for…. to pick up:
Shoes (We have a shoe basket)
Toys (Toy Chest)
Books (Book Bin)
I printed my checklist two per page and then laminated it (I have an affordable self-laminator from Walmart) and put this on our fridge with a square of small stickers held by a magnet nearby.
I introduced this checklist by saying that from now on when we are responsible and pick up after ourselves we get a sticker for each thing we pick up. Then we picked up one of each item and put it where it goes, getting a sticker for each one.
Letting him take the sticker off helps develop his fine motor skills!
Now every time my kids pick up and put away something I give them a sticker to put in the box beside the chore. I give my kids stickers now even if I encourage them to clean by singing or ringing a bell… not just if I “catch” them cleaning, but if they do it without me asking I give them two.
Every time my kids put a sticker up, I say “Oooh we are going to fill up all the boxes and we will be able to see how hard we work.” This week our “trash” box is getting full so I asked Sean Patrick what he thinks we pick up the MOST of and what we needed to pick up MORE of so that I can keep him familiar with important math terms.
I am not giving him some big reward for filling up the boxes at this time because I want to get him accustomed to working hard because it pleases God not just to get the incentive. 🙂
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My kids often do things that are expectedly unexpected (if that even makes sense). If I tell my kids to do something and they have a reaction that I didn’t anticipate, it is unexpected… but since it happens every single day a bajillion times a day… really… how unexpected can it be? Expectedly unexpected.
Expectedly unexpect this, kids: MY reaction to above situation. I get annoyed. Punish. Yell. Throw a Mommy hissy fit if it is the umpteenth time I have told them to turn off the TV. Put the kids in timeout. Take away the TV for the day. Talk talk talk talk talk about how they disobeyed. Seriously, you’d think they’d learn. You think, I’d learn.
Well, I had this re-epiphany the other day. A re-epiphany is that ‘aha’ moment that has been tucked away in our heads. Sometimes we just need a little reminder. And here is my re-epiphany… I need to teach my kids HOW TO THINK!
Me: “It’s time to get dressed…”
Yet they continued to play with toys.
Me: “C’mon boys, let’s get dressed.”
Me: “Stop playing with toys and get dressed!”
Yeah, I’m not proud of those moments when I snap. So, I have recently started turning the conversation around by verbally thinking about and questioning the situation to give them a chance to make the correct decision about what is the important thing to do to accomplish a task.
Me: “It’s time to get dressed.”
They continue to play with toys.
Me: “We need to get to school on time, so which is more important right now: playing with toys or getting dressed?
Boys: “Getting dressed.”
Me: “What happens if we play with toys instead of getting dressed?”
Boys: “Then we are going to be late for school…”
and my little one added: “Then Mommy will be maaaaad.”
Yup… I guess I needed this little epiphany to get myself to chill out because fussing at my kids apparently sticks in their little minds.
I have been focusing my conversations with the kids on using guiding questions to help them discern how to behave. The things that you and I as adults do automatically in our heads do not come naturally to young kids, but we can teach them the thought process that needs to be going through their minds. We can verbally model that for them so they start doing it as well:
Is this the right thing to do?
Which is more important?
What would happen if I didn’t listen?
This type of teaching will help your kids learn how to think things through. If you notice, I talked about our goal: to get to school on time. Then I narrowed down the field of all of the possible things they could be doing right now to two things: playing with toys (the action they are doing) and getting dressed (the action I need them to be doing.
I then ask “What is more important right now?” The right now is important because we do not want them to think that the things that matter most to them aren’t important, but at that exact moment, which is the MOST important. With my 3-year-old, I sometimes also have to say, “We can play with our toys after homework today when it is play time,” to remind him that his own personal goal (to play with toys) will also be fulfilled, but at a later point today.
We have used this approach for many things this week – most of them have been in the format of prioritizing which activity will best help us to reach our goal.
Teaching how to think is cross-curricular. You already teach foreshadowing (what’s going to happen next) in reading and math (sequencing) and cause and effect in science. This is just taking the same conversational approach and applying it to behavior.
I recommend also having these conversations during regular play, not just when you need them to do something. Expect the unexpected. Try to anticipate how they might do something that you will have to fuss them for and start a conversation about it before it happens…
Mommy Teacher: “If we are going to play in your room which is next to your sleeping sister’s room, is it more important to talk loudly or quietly?”
Mommy Teacher: “Why do we need to talk quietly?”
Child: “Because we do not want to wake Sister up.”
And if you’re like me and have a little lawyer or politician on your hands who will try to argue his decision to choose to do something besides what you need him to do, just remind him to think about what is MOST important to accomplish the end goal.
I have been practicing a few guidance techniques lately that I wanted to share with you….
Show of hands…. how many of you ask “WHY?” to your young children on a regular basis wanting to know his/her intent for their behavior?
(raising my hand)
Here are a few examples of my very own “Why?” questions…
1) “Why did you hit your sister?”
2) “Why did you pee on your dresser?”
3) “Why did you throw that food on the floor?”
Well, the answers are usually
1) “because she was pushing me.”
2) “because I thought it would be fun.”
3) “because I didn’t want it any more.”
Okay soooo there are teachable moments that follow these instances of course. But lately, I have been practicing a tip that I think is from “Parenting is Heart Work” to ask more WHAT questions rather than “why” questions.
OHHHHH that makes SOOOO much more sense.
It gives my kids time to reflect on WHAT they just did and not try to figure out why they just did it.
So instead, I have been taking Sean Patrick’s hand and in a calm, loving (non-condescending) voice saying
1) “What did your hand just do?”….. “What are our hands for?” “Are they for hitting?” “What can you do next time to solve your problem more calmly?”
2) “What did you just do to your dresser?” “Is the dresser for tee tee or the potty for tee tee?” “What should you do next time you need to tee tee?”
3) “What did you just do to your food?” “Is that where your food goes when you are done?” “What should we do with our food when we are done?”
This makes the teachable moments so much more interactive and impressionable trust me!
And I am sure you are all still stuck on number 2 haha
Well, another tip I am learning from “Parenting is Heart Work” is to stay calm and NOT be reactive by showing sorrow instead of anger. So when Sean Patrick peed on his dresser I put the palms of my hands and my fingertips together like I was praying, put my pointer fingers up to my lips and CLOSED my eyes with frowed eyebrows (try this right now to see what I am talking about).
I held that position for about 15 seconds and didn’t say anything. Sean Patrick started asking me WHY questions haha “Why are you sad mom?” (still no response) “I’m sorry I tee teed on my dresser!” (still in prayerful pose) “I will never do it again!” (still praying to stay calm) “Why are you sad?”
Then I responded. I am sad because you tee teed in your room so now it will stink. I am sad because you tee teed on your clothes and now it all needs to be washed. And I was hoping that you knew where you are supposed to tee tee every time.
In this instance I didn’t need to ask him the WHAT questions because he acknowledge WHAT he did when I was in prayer pose. And he decided that he was not going to do that again which is what I would have asked him as well.
He didn’t do it again, and in fact he came up to me the next time he tee teed and said “Mom I tee teed in the potty and not on my dresser… Are you proud of me?”
Haha “Yes big boy, yes I am very proud that you made a good choice.”