Thursday, May 27, 2010

Win Win


So about that parenting lecture. Here's the thing. I find parenting to be hideously difficult. I do. Well I did up until two weeks ago. Ever since my son had an opinion which was from basically the time he could hold his head up, we have been embroiled in an epic power struggle. And I feel that, as the adult, I should win. And he feels that, as the cuter of the two of us, he should win. And this year, the year I envisioned to be full of story time and art projects and baking and wild imaginings and wonderment and merrymaking, has really been a lot of fighting and conflict and shrieking and time outs and hell. It hasn't been that bad but the bad moments color my memory because they are so bad.

And I have tried many techniques, none of which worked. We've talked to counselors. No light shed. We've read books or at least parts of books because I just don't like to read parenting books. They are all boring. I even considered that maybe he had a chemical imbalance. Or maybe I do. Well, for sure I do, but nothing that a little pita with nutella can't remedy.

But back to the lecture. We have friends whose kids are so well behaved it appears they are not actually kids but very small adults with smooth skin and high pitched voices. Turns out that these parents did a workshop some years ago in the Adler method of parenting (Alfred Adler, Viennese psychotherapist, long dead), the basic tenet of which is positive discipline. But not the "good sharing" "good pooping" bullshit that we heap on our kids from the moment they latch on. Good latching baby...In fact, I have basically stopped praising my kids altogether, but that's something else I'm trying, which is also working.

Here's how it plays out anecdotally. If my daughter won't hold my hand when we cross a street I say to her: You are such a careful girl! Thank you for teaching mommy how to be so careful crossing the street. She immediately grabs my hand. And when my son starts talking to me while I'm on the phone, which he ALWAYS does, I say: I really appreciate how patient you are being while I'm on the phone. He walks away. Win win.

The other really important piece is that, on the advice of a friend who had just gone to an Adler-based lecture on positive discipline, the very lecture I sent my husband to despite having to miss the Lost finale, I sat my kids down one morning and said the following: guys, I heard from someone who teaches mommies and daddies how to be better mommies and daddies that kids your age are old enough to be told something only once. They agreed. I now ask them to do something and nine times out of ten they do it without being asked again. Sometimes with a lag in execution but I am learning to be even more patient as they get used to my new M.O. I'm happy to report we are going on three weeks conflict free.

Now there is obviously much more to this than a few tips, but when tips work, I'll take them. This is why I don't have much to write about lately. I'm sure once these kids figure out I'm playing them they'll find other ways to get my goat. And then we'll be back in business. Until then, my posts are going to terribly boring. I'm just warning you.


aimee said...

you are way ahead of me! send adler to my house.

Bec Shulba said...

wow - this is SO interesting - i just want to know more. keep us up to date, please! (until then, i'm going to google "adler parenting")

AG Ambroult said...

So glad to know you aren't "killing each other softly" anymore.
I'm going to try that little trick, and go look up more info on Adler (although "long dead" pretty much sums up all I need to know about the man himself)

Everything's Rosie said...

I'll take "boring" as a choice over funny blogs. Better I should 'get a life' than wait to read about the parenting trauma in your life.

Congrats on almost 3 weeks. Take it and run with it. (And don't forget it for a second!!!!!)

cadence_mom said...

Awesome! Parenting through sarcasm is perfect for me.

pixie said...

i love it! yes, good ole reverse psychology. pita and nutella or ...screw it, just give me the whole chocolate bar. problem solved.
think we can ressurect adler?

no way said...

I love this...because I love hearing that I am not the only one with a sharp-as-a-tack, tenacious 5-year-old on my hands. I also love the fact that you've offered a new resource for me to check out, which I plan to do soon. Thanks!

And BTW, I've never really read any parenting book from cover-to-cover either. It's one of my parenting secrets, because I feel guilty about it. They're just so dry...and I feel like I get the drift after the first few pages anyhow.