Friday, June 5, 2009
Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you. ~Robert Fulghum
It is amazing to me to see these two amazing little boys pick up my habits and mannerisms. Terrifying and incredible all at once. I watched tonight as M picked all of the toppings off of his pizza and ate them first and then was so impressed as J strolled around the backyard checking on the plants and called several by name. They are so wonderful, I don't even have words to describe it. They challenge me to the full extent of my ability and potential and I am loving every single second. I am so incredibly thankful for my job right now. I am able to focus on things that will make me a better social worker and a better parent. All of the things I'm interested in are wrapped up in both my career and my personal life. It's so great! I'm going to a second training tomorrow on the "Nurtured Heart Approach" to parenting. I went to the first one the night before the boys moved in and I'm so excited to get a refresher. I'm not the type of person who picks one style of anything but I've really been able to incorporate alot from this philosophy. The main focus is helping kids to build their sense that they can succeed. The founder of the approach uses the example of how trainers trained the amazing Shamu to jump out of the water-----training Shamu to jump over a rope suspended above the water was relatively easy -- once they found the right approach: Make it easy for the Shamu to succeed
In the beginning, reward success, no matter how small. To make it easy for Shamu to succeed, instead of putting the rope above the water and trying to persuade the Shamu whale to jump over it, the trainers started by laying the rope on the bottom of the tank.
Then they watched Shamu very carefully. When they saw Shamu cross over the line (or even get near it in the beginning), they gave him a reward. Rather quickly, Shamu learned that if he swam over the rope, he would often received a reward. Then they raised the rope off the bottom of the tank, rewarding Shamu only when he swam over it . Eventually, they raised the rope above of the water. By that point, Shamu "knew" he would often receive a reward when he had to cross over the line, so quite naturally he began jumping over the rope. Simple, right? It makes a huge difference with kids when you put all your focus on praising and rewarding their successes and allowing natural consequences to deal with their challenges. I use a lot of attachment parenting tools as well; we practice a lot of eye contact and I use "the thinking spot" or "taking a seat" which is basically a quick timeout right next to me. It does nobody any good to use a separation to discipline kids who are traumatized by too many separations. Love and Logic has also had a huge impact on the way I interact with the kids. It also leads to some of the funniest moments... In the midst of a tantrum, J (2) said to me, "No, you're the bummer!", M was trying to get me to give him chocolate milk and when I said "No", his response was "I love you to much to argue".
I think my favorite thing that has happened over the last month is watching the development of empathy in both boys. I easedropped yesterday as they were outside playing near their little swimming pool and they were upset to see the bugs that had landed in the water. Both boys were gently picking up each bug and transferring it carefully to a nearby sunflower leaf. It was amazing to hear them use the words they have heard me say to cheer on the little bugs who were struggling..."You be ok. I know this is hawd" and Good Job! You awe weally twying".
The second most exciting thing is that they are telling on themselves! When a cup of milk spills, I now get an "oops, I spilled the milk" instead of blank stares and blatent refusals to take responsibility. Soooo sooo amazing to watch.
I found this poem and I'm going to print it out and put it on my fridge. Whether this is for another month or forever, I don't want to look back later and think...
If I had my child to raise all over again,I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.I'd finger-paint more, and point the finger less.I would do less correcting and more connecting.I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.I'd do more hugging and less tugging.-- Diane Loomans, from "If I Had My Child To Raise Over Again"