I sit here, seeing that I haven't written in quite some time and yet I'm about to give some parenting advice with a glass of wine in hand. Ironic, no?
It's been one of those days. Oh, you know the days of which I speak… and yet here I am, hoping to share with you a little discovery I have made.
Let me set the stage for you: "Hey mommy, can sister and I share my broken candy cane? I know you already said 'no' to candy for the day, but if I share it and take the smaller piece (it was a very tiny piece <3), I'll let sister have the bigger part". Sister replies: "Or I could take her bigger half and then we can both take another candy cane and break that, and then I'll have the bigger half of that also".
What the what?! I burst into tears.
I ran to the hubs and cried. He chuckled. I felt like I was failing. I agonized over this all day. I knew there was something we could do better as parents, but what? That night I lay in bed just torturing myself the way we mothers do. I prayed and begged God to show me a way to show our children generosity and caring for others. At 2 am I popped up in bed. Yes, popped! I scared the hubs and I still can't decide if his look towards me was terrified or utterly annoyed. Either way, I woke him up and explained my idea. I knew the Holy Spirit had nudged me and I was eager to listen.
Have you ever punished your child and thought any of these thoughts:
This isn't working!
They don't give a darn about this punishment and it's a waste of time.
I think I'm more upset about punishing them than they are about being punished.
Have I gone too far?
If you're anything like the hubs and I, you don't like to use physical punishment and yelling makes you miserable and is rarely effective. But what is the alternative? Love and give hugs? Sure! But, there must be a middle ground, in my humble opinion. They can't get off scott-free every time and need "training", although I hate that word. Anyone have a better word here???
I don't know if I'm right but here is what is finally working for us!
I realized that my daughter needed a good lesson in caring about others' feelings and it was about time she got a lesson in the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Now, every time there is a disagreement or whatever it may be, if it is not an action founded in love and charity, they pull a slip of paper from an envelope and do as it says. Yes, this does stand in place of "go to your room", "sit in a corner", "you have blank taken away", etc.
Here's what ours read:
Draw a picture of you and the person you hurt and give it to them.
Give a hug to the person you hurt.
Choose a chore to do.
Pick up three things out of place that would help me out.
Say a Hail Mary with the person you hurt.
Do something nice for the person you hurt.
Make sure it's something you know they'd appreciate.
FREE PASS: Can I give you a hug?
FREE PASS: Draw a picture of how you feel.
FREE PASS: Have 5 minutes of quiet time (of your choice).
The idea behind this is to turn away from our inclination to defend ourselves and think of someone else. I like to have them choose the chore or things to pick up so they have a say. And I want them to have a say in their lessons on virtue so they feel respected and like they are partly in control. I think so much of the time the arguing with a 3, 4 or 5 year old would come from either side trying to be in control, instead of trying to see the other's point of view. The free passes are just that: they (I hope) let the child who was uncharitable realize that I know their feelings, however wrong or mean, are valid and very real to them. They don't have to explain them and they are free to walk away from this one and cool off. The pictures I get are sooo funny. It's hard not to laugh sometimes. But it is working. They are honest with me about their feelings and are very open when they talk to me about what happened. They are learning they can trust us and tell us anything. This alone is very important to us. Our daughters are realizing that they are listened to and that we try to understand them.
And, yes, they are becoming more generous, loving individuals.
And so this wine I mentioned earlier…..I have a two year old. Enough said. :)
Please feel free to share ideas you have or writing down other ideas for slips of paper to pull from.