Somehow Sweetpea is three now! I’m finding a lot of the things I wanted her to internalize…she has. Which is good! It’s great until she uses the same logic, words, thoughts back to you. This is great! So when I’m all piping mad about something, having the where with all to hear her say “Mommy, belly breathe.”….Yes that’s what I want you to do too big girl. So lead by example Mommy. Anyhow, I wanted to tack on some new-ish thoughts I have on parenting (in addition to my Two Year Old Words).
I like the idea of presenting Sweetpea with options. Life has options right? — so you should be able to make good decisions based off of the options in front of you. Well…sometimes you really have to wear your jacket because it’s just cold out and you WILL get sick. I could go for the she’ll figure out the consequence route but sometimes I really don’t want to give her an option. So we’ve started instituting “sometimes there are options but sometimes there are none. ” So I tell Sweetpea, if I say “can you” or “would you like to” or any other such open ended statement…you have the option of choosing. If I tell you “Sweetpea go do X”…there is no option. You will do X. Why? Because I told you to. I will give you three seconds to decide to do X. If you don’t do X, then……….I’m still working on the then part. But it usually means things like “you will not get the treat you want.” I’ve started thinking about this no option element because sometimes in life an authority figure will tell you to do something. You can question it, ask why, but if you want to do something…you pretty much have to do it.
I really want Sweetpea to make her own decisions. She should think through her decisions and be proud of them. I have a problem with indecisiveness. Make a decision and move forward. If your decision was a bad one, learn from it. So in conjunction with the above option route, if you make a decision…either own it or learn from it. Goodness that sounds harsh. I want her to make strong decisions. Thinking through the consequence of your decision is important. You can make good decisions (that aren’t ours either). Take pride in your thoughts and be you.
3. Who is in Charge?
This has been a big one over the last six months. Sweetpea is an independent little lady who likes to tell people what to do and parent other children. If someone sets a rule, she will ENFORCE it. We’ve talked about who is in charge…You can ask Sweetpea “Who is in charge?”…She will say “I am in charge of me and Mommy/Daddy are also in charge of me.” (When she’s mad at me she’ll say Daddy…). So we’ve tried to stress if another friend is doing something they’re not supposed to do…it’s not your job to correct them. Sometimes when she doesn’t want to follow the “order” mentioned in #1 of this post, I’ll ask her “Sweetpea, who is in charge.” That’s usually when I get “Daddy”…So we talk about it and then we work through the frustration of being told what to do…and she does what she needs to do.
I really think it’s a two way street. As Sweetpea has become more capable in verbalizing her thoughts and feelings, I feel that giving her room to be herself is imperative. To me, this means that when she has a thought or something to share, it’s important that she share them and be heard. However, we’re working on not interrupting. I…am the worst at that. It’s extremely rude! So we say “Excuse me” and wait. Sometimes this means she says “Excuse me” fifty times to someone who isn’t listening…I think being heard is important (as is standing up for yourself when someone isn’t listening). Someone can be me, George, a friend…It’s a matter of giving and receiving respect. We’re all working on this.
5. Compromise and Whining
I REALLY hate whining. I hate the “pa-leeeeeeeeeaaaaaassssssssseee”. No. If you want something and I say yes…well be patient. This means if I say no, I really have to mean it. A “no” needs to be reasonable, defensible and logical. So I have to think through what I say yes or no to. It takes a minute! So she’ll work herself up over something and start whining. I look at her and say “ok let’s start over.” She’ll raise up on her tip toes, calm down, and say “Mom, it really means a lot to me to have Y.” (It is usually yogurt and after 3-4 servings…you really need to have something else!) So then I institute a redirection or compromise. Compromising is a good concept I think but sometimes I think I’ve taken it too far. I’m still working on what this means. Basically sometimes we can compromise, but sometimes it’s just not an option. We’ve really tried to focus on when to compromise and when not to.
7. Name that emotion!
I think being able to describe your emotions is healthy. So we’ve spent time trying to describe how finishing a puzzle makes us feel, or how stubbing our toe….Maybe I’m wrong but I think when you’re able to relate to your emotions it’s good. I’d rather her be able to say what is wrong rather than blow up over everything that doesn’t make sense.
8. Hey! You did exactly what I wanted you to do!!
It’s equally important to me that she be able to be proud of herself and accomplish things. Our struggle of late has been “I can’t I can’t I can’t.” I’m not sure where it’s coming from. So I try to sit down next to her and help her solve her problems. Our latest one has been putting her shoes on. She’s more than capable of putting them on herself. So I’ve found that my little lady needs to be shown things (which is completely the opposite of who I was as a child). So I try to breathe, and help her put on her shoes and then say “SEE!!! You can do hard things can’t you!” Then I ask her how it makes her feel and we go on with our day. Maybe she just needs the extra attention.
This one is difficult for me. I didn’t have a TV growing up (until the age of 12ish). I think creativity and activities are important. I’m trying to work on a sense of balance. So we’ve come up with the rule of Saturday and Sunday you can watch TV. Sommmetimes during the week we watch Daniel Tiger as well. But I think the key is to remember moderation.
8. Screen Time
Another tricky and contentious topic. At the end of the day, laptops, tablets, phones (and who knows what she’ll have) will be part of her life. I don’t think she should spend hours with a tablet/phone/whatnot, but I do think that having the opportunity to play here and there with one is probably important too. If anything I’m worse than she is. So I need to temper my own screen time. We’ve invested a few dollars (less than $10) in some aps that seem to be good. We like Luminosity and Daniel Tiger games so far. I also downloaded a logic game and a drawing letters game both of which she loves. So I just try to guide the screen time experience. Balance.
Something I also struggle with is my own sugar intake…So in an effort to teach balance and moderation, we talk about having 3 sweets a day. I’m thinking of purchasing a food pyramid and trying to use that to gauge balance. Maybe that’s over the top but it will help me also follow what she’s eaten in a day. I more or less count calories for her so I’m on top of whether she will be hungry (read sleep through the night or not) or not. So in an effort to make sure it’s a balance, I’ve been thinking of getting a poster so she can look at it and try to learn to moderate her own diet. I figure it’s important to start young.