Sunday, January 29, 2012
A Good Refresher
My mom got me a book called Parenting with Love and Logic about three years ago. She had heard really good things about it and figured I probably needed the help with Dylan.
Which I did. I still hadn't had him tested for ADHD and was in denial about it. It was like living with the Tazmanian Devil. For reals. I did a lot of spanking and screaming. And it did nothing for Dylan.
This book really was such a revelation. One of its basic tenets is that you don't need to have these big, emotional scream-fests when you're punishing your kid or trying to teach your kid. They broke the rules, and this is their consequence. Badda-bing, badda-boom. No need to get all charged up - that's counterproductive. No need to lecture - kids don't listen to lecturing. They're capable of knowing what they did wrong, and they need to learn how to not repeat the behavior again by themselves.
And it really has helped. For instance, my kids have always been terrible eaters. What I specifically remember Love and Logic teaching me is that, if the child doesn't eat his dinner, say, "That's your decision not to eat your dinner. But you can't have any snacks or drinks clear until breakfast tomorrow morning. If you'd rather go hungry all night instead of eating dinner with us, that's your choice." And then you stick with it.
I also mentally applauded when I read certain things, like, for instance, the idea of not being a "Helicopter Parent" - hovering around, swooping in to save the day when your kid forgets his homework, or if your kid gets a bad grade, marching in and demanding extra credit from the teacher to make up for what your kid just plain old didn't do. I wanted to drive back to where I had taught junior high, and throw this book into a few parent faces that I had dealt with who were major, major Helicopter Parents.
Nat called me soon after we got back from China and said, "Hey, they're having a Love and Logic class for free at the library for six weeks; let's sign up!" I readily agreed and went with her every week. We dragged our husbands along, and our parents very, very kindly watched our kids for us.
I felt like an old pro at Love and Logic, but there were a few things that stood out to me in class that I had forgotten from my reading. And they're worth noting:
1. Don't remind your child to do their chore/homework. If you remind him, you're telling him that you don't think him capable of remembering, and you're taking the responsibility on yourself instead of leaving it on his shoulders. I needed to hear this. I'm really bad at badgering/reminding my kids about stuff.
2. Don't be sarcastic. Another big problem for me. When your kid can't go to his friend's birthday party because he didn't finish his chores, and he's whining at you and mad at you and is trying to wear you down into letting him go, don't say, "Wow, that is soooooooooooooooo sad...." And don't say, "I told you that you couldn't go to the party until your chores were done!" You have to really pretend you're sad for them, but stick to your guns: "That is a huge bummer. I hate when I can't do fun things because I didn't get my chores done." When you empathize with them, then they are mad at the appropriate thing - themselves - instead of at YOU.
3. When your kid is in time out, and you release them from time out, don't tell them why they were in time out. It shows them that you don't think they're smart enough to figure it out. And don't lecture. Give them hugs and move on.
4. Don't give warnings. First infraction, and they're done. When your kids start bickering, instead of saying, "If you don't stop bickering, I'll....", just dismiss them. First time. "Feel free to work this out in your bedroom, guys. You're hurting my ears." The end. Don't try to figure out who started it, etc. In real life, you don't get five warnings. The first time you mess up, you get a consequence. And that's that. Love and Logic is all about teaching your kids about consequences so that they're prepared for the real world.
5. Model taking care of yourself. Show them that their negative decisions will affect them, but NOT you. Let them know that, if they get thrown in jail for bad decisions, you won't use the family money to bail them out. You love them, but "our family doesn't work that way."
6. If you keep "rescuing" kids when they're young, they'll expect it when they're older and their decisions carry heavier consequences.
7. Use enforceable statements. Instead of, "Don't talk to me in that tone of voice!" Say, "I'll be glad to listen when your voice is as soft as mine." Or, "I'll be happy to take you to the baseball game as soon as I feel like I'm being treated with respect."
It was a really great refresher course, and the teachers were so. cool. I kept finding myself wishing that they were my friends. :) Hahaha! It's a husband/wife teaching team, and the husband is a principal at a local junior high school. He had lots of good examples and stories to tell us - he uses Love and Logic at his school.
I should seriously just always take this course. Once a week, for the rest of my life. Because it's easy to fall back into old patterns. It was nice to go once a week and get fortified for the upcoming week and to get reminders of what you should and should not do. It was great. Thanks, Nat, for suggesting it!