Free Parenting Advice

We had our parent/teacher conference yesterday for Davis...and lets just say while some of it was difficult to hear (what? my little angel snuck into the bathroom and filled up the watering can and proceeded to water all the fake flowers in the classroom? and that doesn't make sense, why?) it was hugely beneficial and we got some really great advice. And I'm going to give it away for free- today only! Now keep in mind, it was specific to Davis, so who knows...but I feel like a lot of it was just really smart.

Positive Discipline
Okay, so we don't spank Davis, and we don't really yell, but we DO use time out. Their point to us was that it's not really effective because kids at age 3, especially Davis, really just sit there getting angry, focusing on how to get out of time out, and even how to get revenge by acting out even more. So instead- they recommended we suggest that if he is having a hard time, he go spend a little time alone until he can get his body under control. And then it's an option...

Also they recommended a book called "Positive Discipline" that further breaks this down and also helps you assess the child's behavior to understand what his real need is, and why he is acting the way he is.

No Ifs About It
They also suggested we remove the word "if" from our vocabulary...no more "if you do that again...X will happen" or "if you DON'T put on your shoes, X will happen." Instead you say "When you're done  throwing things, I will be happy to play with you..." and then you just wait. We tried it last night- and I'm not saying our problems are solved- but his reaction was quite different.

Working Hard
They asked if Davis has a pretty independent set up at home. I was like "Uh...I don't really know. What do you mean?" And then she said, well does he do things like: "Pick his own clothes, dress himself, pour his own drinks, put all his dinner away, throw away trash...does he have his own jobs?" Umm...not. Not really. He's 3. Then they said we should try that because kids like to feel useful, and also, he is doing all those things at school, so maybe he is frustrated at home by his lack of independence or control. Again, tried it last night, and he complied almost every time.

Attention
They said they felt like Davis was looking for attention when he is/was acting out. That was really hard to hear. I sort of defensively said "Okay...umm...do you know that we are the parents that play and do activities on the ground with them every minute when we're home? I just want you to know that we give him tons of attention- I actually don't know how to give him more unless I just quit my job..." And they said "well, sometimes it can be specific one on one time attention they are looking for- do you make an effort to do certain activities one on one with him vs. altogether?" We do occasionally- but we agreed to make a more concerted effort.

My Own Realizations
I also sort of realized through all of this that Davis really thrives when you involve him in an activity or a project. When we practice singing, or when we make something together, or when he does yard work with Bennett, he is really so happy and feels so good about himself. I also realized that Davis is probably a lot like I was when I was little- he really thrives on security, familiarity, etc. And lately- our schedule and our life has been a little (read: lot) crazy. I think he is feeling that.

My first response was "well crap- I guess we need to stop going places at night (even occasionally) for a while, and how can I spend less time at work, and how can Bennett travel less?" And then my friend at work made a really great point while I was talking with her...she said "Sam, just because it's hard, doesn't mean it's bad. He is processing things, working through them...that's going to happen a lot in life and you're helping him out by thinking through how to help him handle things...big and small."

So I felt better about it. I think that's really true. I want to be as hands on as I absolutely can be- ask my friends at work- I'm sure they think I slack there because I try to balance both...but I also want to be career-driven and I also want to do things with my friends...and most of all: I want Davis and Holden both to be well adjusted kids that know how to work through things, know how to be independent, and know, more than anything that their mom and dad LOVE them to pieces.

So there you go- some free advice.
I mean, I certainly have paid for it...but it's my gift to you, dear readers. ;-)