Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Positive parenting

The last few weeks I've found it difficult to do anything positively. My frog has been especially trying; not listening the way he usually does and throwing some impressive tantrums. My husband's work has been challenging and keeping him away from home more often (and taking his attention when he's home). To top it all I'm still feeling the sickness and tiredness that comes along with pregnancy, as well as the crippling insecurity that visits me during my pregnancies.

So, after hearing me moan you may wonder if I'll get onto this 'positive parenting'. I think it's times like this that we need positive parenting the most! Now I know that 'positive parenting' is an actual named 'method', upon which multiple books have been written and forums created (see here for why I'm not on them!). This is my version of positive parenting - I'm not following anything other than trying to approach being a mama positively. The suggestions I'm going to give come directly from the mistakes I've made in the last few weeks.

#1. Outward signs of inward frustration
You know the ones I'm talking about - the sigh when frustration is building, the door closed a little to hard after a disagreement with your husband, the cleaning done unnecessarily vigorously after a spill. These are all things other people pick up on, but I'm more concerned about what it's doing to my attitude - which is maintaining a bad one.

I notice this most at nights - my son isn't sleeping well and when it's my turn every time I hear that cry from next door I heave a deep sigh and trundle to the frog's room. This encourages me to think that he's doing it on purpose; not that he needs me but that he's trying to bother me. My husband on the other hand (who gets up more than me) goes in without a sigh, and seems to maintain a good attitude a lot longer than I do. Clearly this is an area I need to learn from him.

#2. Assigning adult feelings to our children
At night my son is not trying to keep me awake, he simply does not want to sleep. When he throws food he's not doing it to give me more cleaning, it's just his sign that he's finished. And when he cries to get what he wants it's not manipulation - it's communication. When we start speaking about establishing dominance in the house I get worried: we're raised people here, not dogs.

Should I let my son get his way and be in charge? No of course I shouldn't. I should be training my child in the way he should go. And how I should do this, I still don't know. But what I do know is that my son is not capable of coercion, manipulation or cruelty. I do not believe that children are born with these impulses. I know they are self-centred, but that is not the same as selfish. I feel that when we assign these names to our children we are creating a barrier between their innocent selves and an unconditional parental relationship. In short, we view them negatively.

#3. Accidents as opportunities
I've mentioned before how much my toddler like to help around the house. Because of that I'm trying to create opportunities out of accidental spills (as well as the more intentional ones).  These aren't punishments; they're showing him that actions have consequences. But what I've noticed recently is that unless I sound really upbeat and make it sound like it's going to be fun, he doesn't want to help. Why? Well why would he volunteer to do something I clearly don't want to do? The most important thing I've realised though is that when I stay upbeat, my anger at him dissipates quicker.

#4. Forgiveness
I just mentioned my anger towards my son, and let me tell you it's been a common feeling these last few weeks. There are a few things he does that really push my buttons, like ripping books. When he does these things, even after the appropriate consequences have been implemented and he's forgotten about it, I can't. I've found myself saying stuff afterwards like 'well if you hadn't ripped that page we could read that book'. My son is 15 months - he doesn't understand passive aggressiveness. And ironically enough, it's one thing that really frustrated me as a child. It's made me realise that when these things happen I have to move on and do it very quickly.

The common theme you'll notice with these tips is that they're not parenting techniques or suggestions - they're about MY attitude towards my son. I don't know how to parent positively when I don't feel positive toward my child. So that's my challenge for myself (and maybe the biggest one so far) - maintaining a constantly positive attitude towards my frog. That includes during the tantrums, in the middle of the night and yes, even when he hits me with the phone he wasn't meant to have. Unconditional love comes easily to most parents - unconditional LIKE is the real challenge.

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