tradecraft: boundaries (part VI)

boundaries at home: the wisdom of…parenting with love and logic…

reading books is a luxury that disappears once you have children…when someone asks me, what’s the last book you read, d.???…my response often sounds something like this…uh, let me think about that now…hmmmmmthe first ‘harry potter’ book…no, not quite that far back–maybe the first ‘hunger games’ book…the movies may be fresh right now (don’t see those right away either), but the books have been around for a while and i’m not on top of what’s new, you know…these twins have me on the ropes;)

but, the good news is–there is light at the end of the tunnel…and as they get older, it starts to come back…little by little…

i started to see that happening this past summer, when i had the chance to pick up the book ‘parenting with love and logic’ by foster cline and jim fay (and several opportunities to actually read it or at least parts of it, unbelievable!)…it was a book that was recommended to my wife and i by our friends nate and emily youngblood…and i’m glad that they made the recommendation, because it is a really great book for parents (both the ‘newly minted moms and dads’ and seasoned veterans of ‘the parenting wars’)…

for me, one of the greatest take-aways from the book so far...is the importance of choice in everyday life…and that, even if your kids are as young as 2 years old you can give them choices, options in the midst of a resistant or contrary behavior…choices that will help them and you reach the desired outcome of a situation–without a power struggle, no less…now, i’m a teacher, so this stuff isn’t completely new to me–i’ve written about choices/options as it relates to navigating expectations and boundaries and consequences with the kids i’ve worked with before…kids who are teenagers, mostly…but, working with toddlers is different…and working with my own toddlers has its own pitfalls–in other words, when certain challenges have come up, i haven’t always known what course to take…it’s like starting from scratch…

importantly, when i talk about choices or options that you can give your kids…i’m not talking about letting them call the shots…they’re 2 years old, people…but, what i am talking about and what i have learned from this book is the fact that even a simple, little choice can give them some power in a situation; it allows them the opportunity to think or to start thinking about things, what they are doing and what choices they are making…it is an opportunity to start working on those life skills…

let me give you an example of the distinction between your children making choices vs. your children calling the shots — and one of the many reasons for why i love this book…

one of the key phrases i picked up from ‘parenting with love and logic’ is: would you like to go by air or by feet?

it’s funny, i read this section of the book right when our toddlers, jack and grace, were first showing signs of serious resistance to our requests to go somewhere…telling us ‘no’ or ‘i don’t wanna’…and staying put, right where they were–immovable human objects…

common times for resistance in our family were/are:

  1. getting in the car
  2. going to the dinner table
  3. going to get changed
  4. going to their rooms for bedtime

here’s a case in point: jack was becoming more and more resistant about getting into the car when we had somewhere to go…so, one day, not too long after i had read the ‘by air or by feet’ part, he was up to his old tricks…not wanting to go to the car, refusing our directives and being non-compliant…and, of course, we were going somewhere fun…like the zoo–so, go figure (this is the kind of behavior that drives parents absolutely nuts)…anyways, the family was dressed and ready to head out the door when jack said…

i’m not going.

so, i asked him,

you don’t want to go to the zoo?

and he said,

no, i don’t.

[an impasse–if we continued to go back and forth like this, the situation would’ve turned into a power struggle–and nobody wins a power struggle; at the same time, if we had let him stay back and have his way when this is what the family was doing–we’d have lost this battle and it could’ve easily set us up for problems in the future–where we might find ourselves handing over our authority to our children again and again–or what i like to call: letting them call the shots]…

so, i paused for a moment and said…

jack this what we’re doing today…you can either go to the car by air or by feet…you can either walk there on your own or be carried (i explained it completely because it was our first go round with this technique)…

i’m not going, he said again.

so, i said…

so, by air, then?! (and picked him up and carried him to the car)

it didn’t take him long after that to realize that he had some say in how he could get from ‘here to there’…that he had a choice in the matter (a little life matter)…and since that first time, he’s often chosen the ‘by feet’ option…

importantly, and this is oh so important–in cases like this, you (the parents) are still getting the results you want…just like we did…in our case, what wasn’t up for debate or argument was the fact that he was going to the car and all of us were going to the zoo together…those were non-negotiables…how he was going to get there was up to him and allowable by “us parents” 🙂

despite the fact that this is something that won’t work with/be appropriate with older/bigger kids, it’s been such an effective response in our home that i’ve often daydreamed about using the same technique on my high school students:  what?! don’t want to go on the field trip–well, you can either go ‘by air or by feet’…what?! don’t want to go to ISS–well, you can either go ‘by air or by feet’…

i can only imagine the puzzled looks on their faces at being presented with those options…

🙂

honestly, ‘by air or by feet’ has saved us from countless knock down, drag-out battles

so, thank you so very much…parenting with love and logic authors, you rule!

 

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