Parenting is hard. I was trying to think of a better way to say it but it really is a beast. You never know what you’re going to get. A prime example of this was my daughter yesterday when my parents came to visit. Before her nap she was so funny, laughing, playful and when she woke up from her nap she was grumpy, just wanted to play on everyone’s phone, and like a whole different kid. I think you often have to just roll with the punches, but sometimes that can be easier said than done . I personally try to stay as positive as I can with her. Sometimes it’s more challenging than others but I really try to take the time to allow her to explore and inquire safely, without constantly saying “no.” I think the word “no” definitely has a place in parenting, but I think if you use it strategically kids are a little less defiant and find more value in the word when it is used.
I went to Penn State and studied elementary education. I had the privilege of working for my entire senior year of college with a mentor teacher in the local school system who was just beyond phenomenal. This was through the PDS program if anyone out there is looking to go to school at PSU for elementary education, I HIGHLY recommend participating in the Professional Development School Program. It was a truly amazing and wildly unique opportunity. Anyways, back to my mentor teacher. She taught me so much about being a teacher, but the bigger lessons I learned were how to just be an amazing person and parent. Judi was so thoughtful in everything that she did and especially when it came to discipline. I would like to believe that a lot of who I am as a parent, I owe to Judi. Some of the ideas I’m sharing below are ones that she taught me. They have really been helpful and easy to implement in my parenting style.
This behavior and method is one that I think is the absolute most important thing that you can do and easily change as a parent. It is super simple, but also very important. Kids have an innate desire to want to be like their parents. They hold you to a very high standard and for that reason it is so important to be the person you want your children to be. It’s pretty simple too…If you want your kids to be less attached to technology, make sure you are less attached to technology (this is one that is very hard in our home, but we strive each day to get better at it), if you want your kids to be more polite–make sure you are saying please, thank you, and expressing gratitude to your spouse, if you want your children to respect and love animals be sure you are loving and respecting animals in your house and outside your home, if you want your child to appreciate nature and go outside more–facilitate this development and suggest all the fun things you can do outside, if you want your child to eat healthier–you need to eat healthier and talk them through the steps of choosing healthy options for yourself. I’m sure you get the point, but I just feel like sometimes we are so quick to want our child to do all of these wonderful things, things that we are falling short on. I saw a hilarious meme on FB the other day that said: “Why is my child not eating healthy (as I reach for a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch as soon as they go to bed)?” Simply put just be who you want your children to be, and dismiss the idea of do as I say, not as I do.
I think it is super important to empower your child to be an active member of the decision making process at a very young age. They may not completely understand what you are saying or doing but it is a simple way to discipline, and allow them to make their own choices. This was something we used in our classroom constantly when I taught with Judi and we taught 1st grade, if you’re wondering. Here is an example: if we had a child who was disrupting another child by kicking them during read aloud, we would say “[Child’s name] you have two choices–you can continue to kick [other child’s name] which means you will go to your seat and not sit with all of us on the rug or you can sit quietly with your feet to yourself and enjoy this great book with your entire class.” It was amazing how some children quickly changed what they were doing. I felt like we held them accountable for their actions, presented the disciplinary action and allowed them to choose how they would proceed. It really worked wonders and I hope helped them to grow for the future. Life is full of choices, so learning at a young age how to assess choices is HUGE in my opinion. It also prevents you from constantly screaming “NO don’t do that” without giving your child a why or how to make what they are doing better.
Another method that sometimes seems silly while doing it but works wonders is the whisper method. This is another method that Judi taught me, and I absolutely love it. I’ve learned in my experiences going through life and also as a parent that people want to belong and be a part of things. Maybe not always, but if a child is actively playing with you and then goes off to do something not desirable, they still want to play with you and often the behavior they are doing is because they want your attention be it negative or positive. The whisper method is simple and I am going to use an example of bedtime at our house. We recently transitioned our almost 2 year old to a toddler bed because she was climbing out of her crib in .2 seconds and giving me a heart attack daily. The hard thing about the toddler bed is she can freely leave the bed and bedtime becomes a bit more complicated. My husband or I typically lay in the toddler bed with her (hilarious when it’s my husband and I get to watch on the monitor) and we read to her and lay with her until she falls asleep. We aren’t big cry it out people because we are absolutely terrible at it, so this is the method that works for us. Sometimes our daughter will not lay down. She will run around her room or just sit up and be silly. So, what I do that works is I lay down in her bed even if it’s by myself with a book that I know she loves and I start reading it in a whisper voice and look at all the pictures so only I can see. She almost always climbs in, lays down and wants to join me. I love it because I haven’t had to raise my voice to tell her to come lay with me, she just does it because truthfully she wants to enjoy the story too. This can work in playing independently, as well. If your child is playing with you and then goes off to do something undesirable, start playing with their toys quietly and pretending to have so much fun and see if they join you. I’m not saying this is a fool-proof method. It certainly doesn’t always work, but it’s one you can easily try to institute and see if it works for you and your child.
Hope this is helpful! Feel free to message me or email me if you have questions or if we can brainstorm together on some other options for positive parenting!