Wednesday, February 15, 2012

AP #3 - Respond with Sensitivity

Respond with Sensitivity

This one has taken much longer to write, because it's something I struggle with. Not with the baby, but with the older two.

The first part of this principle is all about meeting your baby's needs. I have no problem with holding, cuddling, nursing, sleeping with the baby. Everyone knows that babies have limited communication: crying, mostly. We respond to her (and the other two when they were babies) real quickly.

The next two parts I struggle with.

Responding to tantrums: I know that when Jamey throws a fit, it could be that he just doesn't know yet how to handle the emotions he's feeling. I get it. I totally believe it. I don't like to "punish" a tantrum. I'd rather sit down and comfort him and help him through it. However, he cries and whines all day long. I just want the constant whining to stop. So he does spend time in his room "until he can stop crying." It takes about 10 seconds. I know it's not the right answer, because two minutes later he's crying about something else. But it really is true that I don't like being with him when all he does is whine.

I've just had a thought that maybe this isn't a tantrum. This might be a different issue (not necessarily strong emotion, but I don't know what it is or how to make it stop.) I don't know that either of our big kids ever throw tantrums--like we all imagine a tantrum. Never. No throwing themselves on the ground. 
Ivy has collapsed when we've been out of Honey Kix, but that's tired, not tantrum. And I do hold her and talk about getting more at the store or finding something else for breakfast. It doesn't last long. 
Jamey does get mad, but his big thing is screaming "NO!" at us. He gets so mad. And then there's no reasoning with him. It's like we have to let it run it's course and then he's fine again. I try to hold him through that, but he doesn't want holding. He wants to stand and scream. I think that's when he goes to his bed until he's done. I don't feel like we shame him or even get upset about it (usually). It's just a "You can be mad, but if you're going to scream like that, you have to do it in your room. Come down when you're ready." 
 Responding to the older child: A fear I have to squelching expression of emotion. I want our kids to know it's okay to be mad, irritated, sad. It's okay to want to be alone, to be in a bad mood, to need extra loving. How do we foster that freedom of emotion without trampling on the other people in the house?
It would never be acceptable for me to throw books because I'm angry. Or hit Jeremy because I'm cranky. Even if I'm just in a bad mood or didn't get enough sleep, there are still expectations to be kind and courteous. How do I reconcile being angry with responding appropriately to the people around me? And how do we teach that to our kids? 

I feel like we are pretty low-key, laid-back parents as far as rules go. The kids pretty much have free reign over the house and yard. They can play with just about anything; I encourage them to try new things and be creative; I want them to imagine and do things on their own. I want them to play. This could lead into a long discussion of why I want some land and a fence.

I also struggle with playing with the kids. I like to read with them and sometimes I'll color or play a game, but most of the time, I like them to play with each other. I don't feel like I need to always do something with them, but I think that leads to me not doing enough with them.

I have been yelling a lot, and I know it. I want to be more sensitive and patient with the kids. I'm taking steps toward both of those.

  1. I know that on days I work out, I'm a much calmer person. It immediately puts me in a better mood. 
  2. I am recognizing triggers: Ivy being loud at Livy; Jamey whining & crying; tattling--those are the big ones. 
  3. I know that I need to use a gentler, kinder voice when I'm talking with the kids, even when I'm asking/telling them to do something. 
This, it feels like, will always be a work in progress. 

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