Tuesday, August 7, 2012

5 Things that Work: Part 4

And now, for the next installment of:
5 Things that Work (right now) for Parenting (my) Two and a Half Year Old

4. What I'm proud of you for. 

I started doing this a few weeks ago when we were in the peak of tantrums and fits.  I started to realize that most of my words, most of my actions, most of my input in Lila's life was negative, critical, disciplining.  It's so important that our kids know we mean business when it comes to disciplining, but it was getting to the point that I felt like all I did was discipline.  I hated the idea that she would go to bed at night with my words, "No! Stop that! Don't do that! Time out!" ringing in her ears.  Plus, I would go to bed every night feeling defeated, like a mean mom and convinced she was going to grow up to be a delinquent.  So I decided that I would start telling her three things I was proud of her for each night as I was putting her to bed.  
I'm proud of you for trying something new even though you weren't so sure about it: fake nails at our friend Layla's birthday party.
The first night, we had had a really rough day.  Many tantrums, many time outs, a few spankings, a lot of tears and frustration (on both our parts).  But I stuck to my resolve and as I tucked her in I said, "Can I tell you three things I'm proud of you for?"  She nodded.  I wracked my brain.  All I could think of was the hard parts of the day.  So I went small.  "I'm proud of you for eating your whole dinner.  I'm proud of you for saying please when you asked for more milk.  I'm proud of you for putting your book away nicely."  I could see her eyes wide, staring at me in the darkness.  I could see her head nodding with each thing I said, allowing my praise to sink in.  She was quiet for a few seconds and then said, "Can you tell me more what I proud of you for?"  I laughed and of course obliged.  
I'm proud of the way you use your imagination when you play.  I think this was a bus. Or a train.  Or a car.  Some vehicle.
Ever since then, she'll say it before I can even get the words out: "Tell me what I proud of you for!"  This has perhaps made all the difference in our days.  Not only does she hear me affirm her good choices, but I remind myself of the good that happened that day - no matter how small.  And if I'm tempted to ignore the good and focus on the bad (which I am prone to do in many areas of my life), I have a little voice audibly reminding me of the importance of remembering the good.

I'm proud of you for being my Lila.

1 comment:

Stan, Dana, and Isaac said...

Love this post!! Awesome idea.