Positive Parenting Continued...
One day during a counseling session, I mentioned my bewilderment from my daughters tantrums and outbursts. He recommended a different way to parent a child based off of their brains development. Being a nurse, I was intrigued. I came home and devoured the book he gave me called The Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel.
The book gives scientific evidence of how a child's brain isn't developed enough to understand anything during a tantrum. It states that the part of the brain responsible for reasonable thought 1. isn't developed and 2. Is in fight or flight during a tantrum and cannot hear or understand anything that is being said. The book recommends affirming a child's feeling or frustration that led to the tantrum. I was skeptical about this but I tried it and what do you know it works.
Something that was helpful for me to understand is that kids are people just like me. They have feelings and they desire to be heard and validated in those feelings. As a parent, I can get so caught up in how frustrating my child's behaviors are making ME that I forget all about their feelings. I've been in situations where my feelings are not acknowledged and find myself feeling angry and hurt. A child's tantrum is simply a huge feeling that they don't know how to handle whether that be anger or frustration or sadness. When I've tested this with both my 4 year old and my 2 year old the tantrum becomes null and void (most of the time) when I say something like "I can see you are very upset. Can mommy sit with you while you are upset." I just let them cry and get all their emotion out and then when they are calm we talk about their big feelings and that it's okay to have those big feelings. Then we address what to do instead. I want so badly for my children to feel safe and free to express their feelings both good and bad to me. I mention this because popular advice I would get about tantrums was to put them in their crib and let them scream until they stop. I feel that this action sends a message that their feelings aren't important which to a child could be interpreted by them that they are bad or something is wrong with those feelings, leading to feelings of shame.
I had so much shame over who I was and what I thought was wrong with me that I've always had problems with confrontation and sharing my feelings both good and bad. It has caused so much unnecessary hurt and resentment in my marriage. I want my children to develop emotional maturity and empathy and I guess I thought those just come naturally and I don't believe they do. I believe it will (mostly) be taught by my children witnessing that treatment in their own lives.
I don't know why I never thought about it this way before but when I read that children learn more from your actions than your words I felt convicted. I was constantly asking my children to behave in a way that I wasn't modeling and I knew it had to change. I have found more peace as a parent and more peace with my children using these revelations.
Unfortunately, with all the stress in my life the past 4 months I resorted back to the kind of parenting that I despise. Old habit's die hard and when you're raised one way it's so hard to break that and do something different. It's almost pre-programmed. Which I'm sad to say is threatening spanking or time out when my children don't do what I ask. It creates for us a very tense house and more misbehavior. I went to the home school conference this weekend and it helped me be encouraged that I can treat my children with kindness and above all make my relationship with my kids the most important instead of focusing on all the misbehavior. I pray that this encouragement sticks and my soul refreshment will help me be the gentle mom that I so long to be. I'm still figuring out gentle discipline but I have found when my children feel connected with me and they feel heard by me (when I know I'm doing a good job at being real with them) they are generally more compliant and obedient. I'm thinking of making a blogging schedule of some sort for each day of the week and one of the days would be my updates about positive parenting. Books I'm reading right now are No Bad Kids :Toddler Discipline without Shame. Positive Parenting:An Essential Guide and The Newbies Guide to Positive Parenting.