Our Children’s Behavior and How We Respond to the Challenges

I was recently asked by a few people to write on the subject of behavior and how I deal with my boys when things aren’t smooth and easy. Tonight feels like the night to share on this subject. Today was a crazy, challenging day and somehow, we all survived and communicated through it without anyone feeling any worse than we already had within ourselves. There wasn’t enough sleep last night which created a day filled with moodiness, sensitivity, and crying to name a few.

I was having a lupus flare up with major fatigue and to top it off, we got home from a long day only to be locked out! So, I had the boys telling me they were cold and tired, ten bags on my arm, a borrowed ladder from the neighbor, our dog in tow and had to handle this situation. I attempted to climb up to the second story balcony like spider man. As my boys cheered me on, and after calling a few people walking by to assist, we were finally successful and opened the door I thankfully left unlocked today! Just another day in the life. Should I share or should I only share my smiles and happiness? I am choosing to share.

One of the things I’ve always believed is that most of us grew up with the feeling of not being good enough. I learned this several years ago and not only did I remember the point in my life when I made that decision, but I began to see the pattern in everyone I knew. That point when you were a child and the world was yours. You were carefree with mismatched socks on, crooked glasses on your face, a missing front tooth and had no idea what perfect or imperfect was. You just walked around fulfilling your curiosity and trying to find your place in this world without knowing exactly what “fitting in” meant yet.

Then, one day, something happened. Someone made fun of you. Someone judged you. Someone pointed out your differences. Someone made you cry. At that point, you made a decision, most likely unconscious, that you weren’t good enough and the negative self image, comparison to others, and quest to fit in or stand out began.

The reason I am mentioning this is because that happened to me and I’ve spent most of my life actually standing on the outside. I wanted everyone to like me and then I realized I cared more about being ME and understood that not everyone would. Today, I want to share with you because I believe that as a parent, or as any human being trying to find your way, you must realize and understand this pattern so you can not only heal yourself, but also do your best to prevent the same feeling from affecting the younger generations of this world. This awareness and transformation begins with ourselves and our children first.

I had no idea what kind of parent I would be. I had no idea what patience was until I had my first child. No idea. I had no idea what unconditional love was although I thought I had known it well. I truly discovered Love, Patience and an Instinct within myself that I had never known. This instinct is what guides me each day. This Love is what allows me to be patient and kind and strong, no matter what.

I didn’t know that the term ‘gentle’ or ‘positive’ discipline existed, yet I knew that’s what I was practicing. Once you hear a term or you hear others doing what you are doing, it makes you feel like you have support, like you are not alone and like you are not as different as everyone says you are.

I am non-traditional in my ways. Yes. I have been judged and doubted and questioned along the way and I’m certain that will continue. That is fine. My sons may cry in front of you or they may throw a fit in a public place. You may stare and say, “Can’t that woman get her kid’s under control?” You may say, “I know her kid’s are crying because she is an attachment parent and she’s still breastfeeding.” Let me think of what else you might say just so you know that I’m already aware you are saying it. “Sandy really needs to do time outs and discipline those boys or they are just going to be crazy.”

Although I wish you would be kind and have empathy for me and all of the other parents or caretakers out there struggling in moments when they can’t control a situation or sad that their child is suffering, I can’t do anything about you or those like you. You either don’t have kids, think yours are perfect, think you are perfect, or have no idea what it is to love so much that you care more about comforting your suffering child, than being embarrassed because someone can’t handle the annoyance of your struggle.

When children act out, they are crying for attention. They are crying because something isn’t right. They are hungry, they are tired, they are frustrated, they are scared. They may simply need you to hold them. That is all that matters to me. Being there for them in those moments. Logic sometimes works. Sometimes it’s just removing them from the situation if they will let you. Sometimes it is just holding them and assuring them that you are there until it passes.

We must breathe deeply and remain calm. Even if that doesn’t seem possible. I don’t ever want to threaten or shame them into anything. I don’t believe in it. When I do the juggling act of distraction that I sometimes find necessary, I do it in order to get them out of the momentary stress they are experiencing. I don’t dismiss what they are going through. I acknowledge their feelings and their point of view once they are able to communicate with me and we move on with the next moment in our day.

I believe that communication is the most important thing. In any relationship. I communicate with my boys and always have. I respect them as people. They know this and this is how we work our issues out. This is how we support one another and learn who we are. Dominance, yelling, threatening, scaring, punishing…I’m sorry. I do not believe in. Think about yourself. When someone does that to you, do you react gently, kindly, respectfully, obediently. Or would you say you are more defensive, angry or hurt? Yes, you may react obediently but what is that. The negative effects of the situations are prolonged, the hurt feelings linger and something is taken away from you. Somewhere along the way, you will feel like you are bad, not good enough, or unloved.

Obedience to me may look good to others and others may comment on how well behaved your children are, but with obedience comes less of their spirt. In my opinion, communication and positive discipline allow for children to be themselves, allows for their spirits to be free and yet they will learn the respect and boundaries needed without crushing their souls and making them compliant robots for the sake of looking good to others.

To be clear, we are all different. I am only sharing what works for me and what I believe. I am not perfect. I can only hope that my example, my choices and my methods will make my boys strong, independent, free-spirited, confident, loving, compassionate, kind men. I hope that they always remember and know how loved they are. I believe it is the gift of feeling loved that gives us what we need in Being who we are supposed to BE in this Lifetime.

Patience and Love. Support and Encouragement. Warmth and Compassion.
I hear you. I understand you. I respect you. I love you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Four Principles To Use In Raising Children and Creating Peace In Your Family

Love. Patience. Presence. Respect.

Our role as Parent is constant…ever-changing and ever-growing. We each have different parenting styles and we each face challenges differently as well.
As an attachment parent, four of my fundamental principles are Love, Patience, Presence and Respect. There are many others but these four will sum up an important message I’d like to share today.

When we operate from Love, I believe our intentions are for Harmony, for Peace, for Happiness. If we Love kindly and gently, we hope that these things will naturally be results of our Love. I have discovered that Love, combined with Patience, Presence and Respect, will not only guide me in the direction in which to handle situations, but will also carry me through the challenging times when I truly don’t have the answers.

Please imagine yourself, as a child or as an adult, experiencing frustration, sadness, anger, or any other emotion or feeling that makes you uncomfortable. When you imagine yourself feeling that discomfort, what do you believe could take that away or at least make it easier in that moment? I ask you to imagine yourself because many times in life, it is important to put the shoes on your own feet to gain the necessary perspective in dealing with others. I find this to be true and probably most importantly, in the way we treat and listen to our children.

So often, parents decide it is their way or no way. It is this way simply because “I say so.” You are the parent, they are the children, and for many, it is thought to be the hierarchy that sets the tone for discipline and commands. I don’t believe in those methods. I believe our children deserve to be heard. I believe they deserve respect. I believe they deserve an answer and an explanation. I believe they deserve our Love. Our Patience. Our Presence. I believe we all deserve this.

No matter what is going on, crying in the middle of the night from your newborn, a screaming tantrum from your two year old, your angry four year old making a demand out of frustration…these need to be met with tenderness, calmness and composure of mind. I’m not saying this is easy. I’m not saying you won’t be challenged and tested beyond belief, because you will. I’m only sharing what works for me. I’m sharing this because the alternatives are not only damaging to your children, but they are damaging to you as well.

When we don’t take the time to truly be present and listen…when we don’t dig deeper than we think is possible for patience in a trying moment…when your love turns to anger and you lash out or lose control with your children, damage will be done. I can assure you of that. The negative feelings and situations will be prolonged, everyone will feel worse than they did initially, and someone, if not everyone, will walk away feeling misunderstood, unheard and alone.

It is my goal to nurture, love, and create harmony in my household. I believe we all want the same. When that isn’t happening, we must have the awareness of these principles at our disposal so we can easily tap into and operate from them at all times.

Love.

There was an unconditional Love that was born in me that I never knew prior to giving birth. That in itself, is the source that guides me in everything I do.

Patience.

The source of Love will give you the Patience you need most of the time but there will be moments when you think you can’t possibly keep it together for one more second. You must remember in these moments that you are capable of endurance. You are capable of self control. You can do it. Just breathe deeply. Close your eyes if you can…just for a few seconds. Stay calm.
The short term and long term effects of losing your patience and lashing out bitterly will hurt your children and you. During conflict or stressful situations, our children simply want to be heard, understood and accepted. They are trying to communicate something. If we are able to remain calm in these moments, not only will it ease their stress sooner, but it will not let the situation turn into something worse because of the anger and negativity added on top of it. You will then be able to communicate and allow for both of you to learn from the conflict. Your patience will comfort them and your empathy will encourage them to resolve the struggles within themselves in just knowing you hear them.

Presence.

Physical closeness, level headedness and a choice to be present with your children will make a difference. Not only in the quality time spent together, but this will also allow the lines of communication to be clear and open.
Whether it’s reading a book together on the couch, or when your child doesn’t want to leave the park when it’s time to go, your presence is always important. They can accept when they are doing their thing and you are doing yours…most of the time. When you are with them though, choose to be with them. It’s so easy these days with our phones and technology to get distracted. We may physically be next to them but mentally, conjuring up our next facebook status update. When you are present, they feel it. They appreciate it. They cherish it. When they don’t want to leave the park, your presence in that moment will help them understand that it’s ok. Talking on the phone while yelling at them to leave won’t have the same outcome.

Respect.

We all want to be respected, valued, recognized, adored, appreciated…
Children deserve this as well as we do as parents. When we experience this respect from others, we are empowered to be our best. We are comforted in expressing our voices. We are strengthened with Love and we are emotionally available. We discover that in times when we don’t feel respected, the walls begin to rise and the willingness to communicate and connect shuts down. This usually then shifts the relationship to “Because I said so” again where the parent believes they are the only one who deserves respect and the child’s feelings are dismissed. This will only leave your child feeling unheard, misunderstood and left without an explanation. Please respect them as human beings and by that respect, it becomes possible for you to earn theirs.

We are all doing our best and I believe these tools will help us do it better. 
Let’s all make more of an effort in dealing with our children and one another lovingly, patiently, respectfully… and let’s all make an effort and the choice to be present as often as possible. It will make a difference.

 

 

 

 

 

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