Thursday, April 17, 2008

advice that works for me

Several years ago (wait, let me figure it out... aaaannnd.... got it! Five years ago), I was in a Parent Education class with Big Girl (in our town we have these wonderful free classes offered by the community college) and our teacher imparted a certain piece of wisdom during discussion one day.

I think the topic was discipline or tantrums or something. All the children in the class were turning three during the school year, so it was something about the difficulties of living with a two- or three-year old.

She said, "try to say yes."

For me, this sentence was jarring. Say "yes" to my toddler? But she is always asking to do things or eat things that just aren't appropriate! My whole day is "no, you can't have candy right now, I'm making dinner," "no, we can't go to the zoo, we have to get groceries," "no, you can't climb on that statue, we're in a museum," you get the idea.

So, how about changing it to:
"yes, you can have a piece of candy after we eat a good dinner"
"yes, we can go to the zoo tomorrow (or Saturday...), what animals do you want to see there?"
"I see that you want to climb; where do you think we should go to do some climbing?"

It sounds a bit Stepford-Mommy, I know; but it has really helped me. It doesn't help all the time, but it does cut back on the tantrums. Plus, it helps me stop being so serious, which is a good thing for me. Sometimes I lose perspective and feel like altering my plans for the day would be the end of the world. It helps me to take a step back, and see the bigger picture.

These kids will not be little for long.


smalltownmom said...

Good advice. I've TRIED to do that. I had a book, "How to Talk so Kids will Listen," which was helpful.

barbra said...

Oh! I know that book! It's a good one. Those authors also wrote "Siblings Without Rivalry," which I also recommend.

Anonymous said...

This is great -- I really need it this week.

blackbird said...

This theory has always rung true to me - it's more about responding to your kids with a positive than a negative than giving's a tough concept but it works along the same lines as ignoring bad behavior and focusing on good behavior.
So many parents seem to me to be in constant battle with their children. Saying yes, under the right conditions (the cookie after dinner, half an hour later for the curfew) makes kids feel trusted and rewarded.
I'm a long past little ones, but I know what worked.

Sarah O. said...

I remember hearing this advice when my kids were little and it, well, blew my mind. I hadn't realized how often I said NO.

Even though my kids are teenagers now, we still use this tactic and it works very, very well.

JCK said...

This is SUCH a great point. I try to do it as much as a can, too. It really is a form of compromise, and your child can feel more of the process in decision making. Kind of a win-win. However, I have found it challenging at times to be in the moment, of course...yet, when I do it the day goes SO much better.

Jason said...

I like it, I like it. I'm so in favor of positive parenting techniques. Sometimes hearing how parents deal with their children in the grocery store or at the hair salon just makes me cringe. I will use this one starting right now.