I try super hard not to be judgy about what other people choose to do and I am trying very hard not to care when people are super judgy about my parenting. I see things sometimes that make me want to bang my head on the wall but I figure that it is none of my business (usually).
However, I don’t have to be quiet about why I think what I think. Lots of thought and research has brought me here so I might as well share.
I should also note that I’m not talking to or about anyone. This is ALL me speaking in generalities. Ok. Oh, AND I want to be clear that THIS is what works for my family. I do not expect it to work for all families. Parenting, like everything on earth, does not fall into the one size fits all category.
Spanking. We don’t spank. I spanked my son (not hard at all) about three times because I had no idea what else to do. Once was a reflex as he was doing something totally dangerous and twice were for hitting his newborn sister in the head. It didn’t help. All that happened was that there were three of us crying instead of just one. I felt like complete shit. I couldn’t believe I had spanked my baby for hitting my other baby. It could be argued that to spank someone because they hit someone…is poor logic at best. I never intended to spank. It was a reflex from an exhausted and overwhelmed new mother of two. After doing it three times, I gave it up forever. I will never spank again.
*begin almost off-topic rant*
I see a lot of Facebook memes that try and argue that the reason “kids these days” are the way they are is because people haven’t been beating the crap out of them. Mkay. I think it’s because no one ever modeled politeness to them. They actually need to see it. They watch horrible, violent television and video games and it has an effect. Processed food pumped full of dyes and chemicals have an effect. 20 minutes of recess a day has a effect. Exhaustion and rushing from one thing to the next has an effect.
I have a crazy theory that more play, mindfulness, and modeling of empathy without judgment might be what children need to be healthy. What?
*end almost off-topic rant*
Time-Out. It doesn’t even work. If it worked, I’d be all for it. It doesn’t work. It might work with an older child but a toddler? Nope. Time-In would be a more accurate description of what I do now. If I need to remove my child from a situation and go have a Time-In with him, I will. This works really well when we are in big overwhelming situations. I’m sure people think I’m hauling him off to spank him but really I haul him off to cuddle. Wild behavior in a situation that involves loads of people usually means we’ve come unhooked. We are disconnected and we need to reconnect and he needs to know I’m still there and there is still order in the universe even though there are 50 big people and lots of sugar around.
I’ve seen many, many people disparaging Super Nanny because she teaches time-out. I love and have always loved the Super Nanny because she gives families hope where they have given up. She brings order and routine where there usually isn’t any of either. Again, there is more than one way to parent. Usually, everyone is happier and more connected so I fail to see a problem here.
Sharing. Oh sharing. I was at a party awhile back and my darling was having some trouble sharing with someone else’s darling. And I didn’t do anything about it. *GASP* I’m pretty sure that it crossed at least one person’s mind that I was one of those hippie parents whose children run wild, not sharing, all over the place. Sharing is fine but it sort of has to be self-motivated. If I’m forcing someone to share with someone else, it kind of kills the spirit of sharing in the first place. If I’m using the iPad and my husband wants to use it, I don’t just give it to him because I’m a good sharer. Husband doesn’t yank it out of my hand because we are sharing. I give it to him when I’m done because I don’t need it anymore. And I’ve never seen two toddlers successfully share something and sit on the floor quietly playing together. That has never happened in the history of the planet. It isn’t just going to start happening because someone wants it to. It isn’t actually realistic either. I am not offering a solution to two children fighting over the same thing because I don’t have one. I’m just not going to try and make people get along.
Speaking of making people get along, I’m not a fan of the “Get-Along Shirt.” It has taken the internet by storm but why? To raise emotionally healthy children (which let’s face it, is a challenge for us as Americans, just look at the violence we have to deal with daily…that isn’t happening because we have superb emotional health!!!!) we have to let them have emotions and not diminish them. If two children are not getting along, it usually means they need more space instead of less space. I’d be willing to bet a lot of money that each child needs to express something. Once that thing is expressed, I’d be surprised if they weren’t willing to apologize or just resume playing like nothing had happened. Sometimes I don’t get along with people and I wouldn’t let anyone stick me in a shirt with them so why is it ok to do that to our children? Do I think “Get-Along Shirts” are to blame for emotional instability in adults? No, of course not. But you won’t find it happening in our house. In fact, I make an effort every day to help my children navigate their emotions and find a healthy way to do it. I expect my kids to fight all the time and I expect to get entirely frustrated with it. I just think there is a better way to get people on the same team!
I used to teach first grade. No one ever got along. It is par for the course. Instead, we had to come up with creative ways to deal. If two people were fighting, my first suggestion was for “Johnny” to go play “over there,” and “Sally” to go play “over there.” That resolved the issue over half the time. Depending on the children, I might find them a project involving meaningful work to do that would distract them from the issue that was causing so much strife. That works even better!
Of course, I have all the answers so this stuff is totally easy for me. HA! Actually, I am always working and reading and thinking and exploring so I can find a better way. I acknowledge when something truly isn’t working and I don’t do it anymore. One thing I know for sure is that when my children’s needs are completely met, we have few struggles and when we have struggles we acknowledge how they make us feel. And then we move on. That’s the important part. Move on and keep moving.