(a picture of Jim just to prove it didn't all come from my side of the family!)
Have I mentioned I'm strong willed?! I am! Feel sorry for Jim and my Mom. But it has helped me with Caleb. I am passionate about this subject because I have learned a lot in the last 6 years. And like any good strong willed child I learned it by doing it wrong first:)
Here is my warning to you. I am an expert at MY children. No one knows them better than I do. I am not an expert on your child. You may read what I do here and think it is a horrible idea for you...you are probably right! Don't do it. God gave you your children for a reason and He will help you raise them. My hope is that in reading this you will have restored hope that that strong willed child of yours may end up changing the world! And that you are not all alone! And if you pick up something that helps you get through your day easier then I will be thrilled!
So here's what I've learned:
1st we have to work on ourselves (don't you hate when a book starts out with that!!!)
-You are going to be cool, calm and TOTALLY under control!!! Don't let em see you sweat EVER!!!! If they are like my Caleb they will thrive on seeing your veins pop out of your head...makes it all worth while:)
-stay loving and as cheerful as possible even if that means you have to crank up your favorite music, grab your whisk (I mean microphone), jump on the table and ROCK OUT!
-Think ahead of 1 thing you want to work on- not every thing they are doing right now that bugs you (for us it is bullying younger siblings) but we do know that with SW kids it's not the issue that gets you into a battle it's their reaction to the correction. Be ready with your game plan. How are you going to calmly handle the freak out?
-Do all of this without becoming patronizing or sarcastic. This is the hardest one for me!!! I can stay happy and upbeat but it quickly turns to sarcasm. "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4
-Get someone else involved to support you. Raising kids is hard work! You need a team to cheer you on!
Jim and I got the book Nurture by Nature by Barbara Barron-Tieger to help us understand our kids personalities and where our different personalities would hit conflict. I highly recommend it.
-Pray, pray, pray...you will need it! I'll pray too if you let me know.
Piece of cake right? OK, the good stuff, the tips:
-Look them in the eye and tell them (don't ask) to do or don't do whatever and just walk away. Man, I messed this up so much early on!!! I'd stand there and stare at him! Picture one alpha dog staring down another. Of course it would always end in a battle. Trust me just walk away.
-if they refuse to do or stop doing whatever you told them you have some choices. You could give them some non choices. "You can pick up the crayons now or you can sit there until you are strong enough to do it, no problem." OR you could ignore it. WHAT ignore it??? That is crazy!!! Yes it is, and if you are anything like me it will eat you up! But you are not ignoring it forever just until a teaching moment presents itself. You could ignore it, wait until your little angel asks for a drink, or to go outside, or a TV show and then answer "I'd love to do that honey but you still haven't obeyed Mommy. Do you remember what I asked you to do?"
This was very hard for me and I'll tell you why. I am a big believer in first time obedience. I do believe it is important for kids to obey right away and with a glad heart but that takes training for some kids. Natural consequences. Also I hate the idea of punishment! I don't want to go all day with a list of things they haven't done and a list of consequences. I don't do that. Basically nothing happens until this issue is resolved. The rest of the family (this is when siblings are a blessing) goes on with our normal routine of playing outside (if said child can be left alone), coloring, having a snack or whatever while the child decides what they are going to do. This is not punishment if done with the right attitude and with empathy. "Man Caleb, i totally get why you are frustrated! I'd be frustrated too if I was missing snack time. I know you will work it out though!" He has the control he thought he wanted. He decides what he will do. When he finally does it. Celebrate with him but not too much. Give him a five and say "good job I knew you could do it!" If it is still snack time give him a snack...if it is not don't. Natural consequences are the best teachers!
-follow through! SW kids need action not a lot of flapping gums! One of my mentors once told us "If you say if they do that one more time you are going to throw them out the window, you better have the window open and a soft place for them to fall!" She also said "You are not big enough to mess up God's plan for your kids!" Man, I love her!
-Don't give them too much info! Don't say "If you don't eat there won't be dessert" This is just bribery. We want our kids to learn on their own to stop eating when they are full not to stuff themselves silly for dessert. When they say they are full tell them OK and let them down. Later (if you really feel like they didn't eat enough) serve dessert and when they ask for some (you know they will) say "No honey" and turn and walk away. Then they will chase after you and ask why? This is it!!! This is your teachable opportunity! The thing we never get with sw kids!!! But don't blow it...you are not punishing them. They did nothing wrong. Say something like "You didn't finish your dinner honey, and that's totally fine but if you weren't hungry enough for your food then there can't be any room for dessert. Give them a squeeze and then walk away.
We will talk about blow ups next...
So tell me about your SW child? Do you do things totally differently? I'd love to hear about it! The more tools in my tool box the better!