|My shopping buddies!|
I mentioned a few days ago that we have had a break trough with Ayden's ability (and desire) to do as we say. It all comes down to emotions. We have always labeled and validated Ayden's emotions. We feel like if a person understands what it is they are feeling when experiencing intense emotions, they are better able to control themselves when it happens in the future. Toddlers are in a very intense transition between learning about free will, which brings with it these raw emotions, and the ability to process and vocalize the intense emotions they experience when someone (ie a parent) gets in their way.
While we had all along been labeling Ayden's feelings, we had kind of been sheltering him from our emotions. If he did something that frustrated us or made us angry, we would try to keep our emotions in check while dealing with the situation. We have read countless articles that say that you are the adult, they are the child, don't get emotionally involved because it will fuel the fire/intrigue them/etc. What we have come to learn is that there is a difference between keeping emotions "in check" and hiding them altogether. I still strongly believe that we as parents should never touch our children out of anger or to "break" them so to speak. But now I also subscribe to the idea that we, as the model adults in our children's lives, should most certainly let them observe us moving through all of the different emotions. Even the "negative" ones because they are just as real than any others. In the process we can label them and model how to handle them. If we lose control in some way and don't handle a situation the way we should have, we can explain that (and even apologize if necessary) once things simmer down. We are humans and what better way to teach than to show.
I found this almost by accident. When Logan was 2 or 3 weeks old we had a few days where Ayden was leaving us feeling helpless and frustrated. We were in a constant battle of the wills. He was hitting us, doing exactly what we told him not to, etc. This was all part of his adjustment. We knew that but it did not make it any easier. In fact, since we were all adjusting at the same time it made it even more difficult. We were trying different things, reading articles, trying our best to find the best (non-spanking) solution. Something tailored to Ayden that would help us break through and find Dr. Jeckle again. I even asked my mom if she thought my sweet Ayden would come back or if he'd taken some permanent turn with his personality.
After a lot of trial and error with things that were *kind* of working, I had a moment where I let him see exactly how he was making me feel. I cried. I sat down and cried right in front of him. IMMEDIATELY his face fell and he came to me and the empathy and sweetness came out. He caressed my face, asked why I was crying and was genuinely wanting to take care of me. He was concerned and wanted nothing more than for me to feel happy again. When I told him that it was his actions that had made me feel that way something clicked. All I had to do was show him that his actions can have an effect on how someone else, in this case his mommy, feels. He apologized on his own and hugged me. He kissed my cheek and asked if that made it better. I hugged him so tight and told him that yes, it did. Since then I have been a little less guarded with showing him my emotions. If he has made me angry I frown, look him right in the eye and say, "You ____. That makes me feel angry." I still feel like less is more so I keep it very simple and to the point; but I let him see the look on my face and give it a label.
Before I knew it, all he had to see was the frown and he'd say, "Are you happy?" Or, "I want you to be happy, Mommy." Isn't that what we all want from one another? We are beginning to be on the same page, little man! Fast forward a couple of weeks and we had a long talk, when we were both in good moods (the best time to revisit a situation or elaborate), about how when he listens we are happy and when he doesn't listen it can make us angry/frustrated/etc. He completely understood that conversation and it was a big turning point for his ability to respect our wishes, even if he doesn't want to. He still pushes the limits and he has his moments where he falls back into old patterns. But now, 9 times out of 10, all we have to say is, "Are you choosing to listen right now?" Which he knows to interpret as, "Are you choosing to have a happy mommy (or daddy) right now?"
Him realizing that he has the CHOICE to have happy parents or angry parents was huge. Toddlers love to have power and we are just lucky that he has decided to start using his power for good.
With his new ability to listen has come more freedoms and privileges that he is enjoying very much. We have been letting him know our expectations ahead of time and letting him know what the consequence will be if he don't hold up his end of the bargin. Then, most importantly, we consistently follow through with our consequences so that in the future, he'll know we mean business. The fun new freedoms have been pretty good incentive for him to keep up the good work.
|"You may push your own cart if you stay close. If you choose not to, you'll sit in my cart."|
(Mommy does happy dance)
Obviously our journey with Ayden and his choices in life is just beginning. We are just celebrating this success at the moment and trying not to worry what hurtle he'll toss at us next. This boy of ours has always kept us on our toes and we are sure he always will. For now, we have seen so much progress and our sweet Ayden is making a comback one day at a time.
Do you show or shield your emotions in front of your children? For Ayden, a little more transparency was just the consequence we were looking for.
Flashback! Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "5 Tips To Help Avoid A Battle Of The Wills" - Haha, so funny this was post a year ago today! ALL of those tips still apply and are implemented in our household. We still try to prevent as a first course of action. The emotions come in to play when we have exhausted all other options. Ayden is strong willed and can be a stinker when he wants to be!
And two years ago today: "Happy Things"
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