Wednesday, April 3, 2013

All or Nothing

This morning, during Spencer's weekly play date with his best friend (also known as my coffee date with one if my very best friends), the topic of "all or nothing" when it comes to kids came up.

All or nothing.

What do I mean by that? Well, in a way, it seeks, that children, particularly young children, they don't see in gray areas. Things are black and white. Cut and dry.

It can be very frustrating. When my toddler throws a fit for the umpteenth time because I say that fruit snacks aren't a meal, there are times I just really want to say "screw it, you can have them THIS TIME."

But toddlers don't work that way. Fruit snacks are either a meal always, or never.

And I've made those mistakes before. And I tell you what, that's why it's a fight nearly every time he asks now. He doesn't understand the "this time," part of my adult thought process.

The other day, my husband and I were watching a movie, "Hook," actually, and there is a scene in there were the little boy's dad PROMISES he will come to his big baseball game. And he doesn't follow through.

Heartbreak. That's what that feels like. I have experienced it as a child. I'm sure at some point, most children have, whether it is a parent promising to show up, or take them to the zoo, or a treat that they don't deliver. And while it is important in the rational mind to know that you will experience some disappointment at some time, it crushes a child.

I would go so far as to say that it discourages trust in the parent-child relationship. This morning, the statement was made that if your kid can't trust that you are going to follow through with some thing, it could lead them to not trust the fundamental part of your relationship- your love. It sounds extreme, but continual disappointment and lack of follow through really can affect a child that way and cause self-esteem issues.

I will be the first to admit that I'm not perfect in this way either. Just last night, for example, I told Spencer that if we could leave the park at that time, he could have a sucker when we got home. And then, I forgot about it. I assume he did too, because he didn't ask for one, but that's lucky for me, and the principle still stands.

My husband and I have been working on discipline and consequences with Spencer. It's difficult because he is extremely stubborn and different things with effectively for each of us to curb and redirect behaviors. I noticed something recently though.

Even if/when Spencer is in trouble, and I flick him on the forehead (not hard, but I've deduced his forehead is a heightened sensory point for him) and he cries, I am stern in my stance, but I still tell him I love him. I tell him I'm unhappy with his choice or behavior and that it was not a good thing to do, but even in the discipline, I tell him I love him. I ask for a kids or hug. Sometimes I get one, sometimes I don't.

I've also found that I ask Jake to do the same. If he is mad at Spencer, I still request, even if he would prefer to get away from him for a while, to tell him he loves him and ask for that hug and kiss. Yes, go ahead and be mad, but be loving about it too. Right? In no way do I think Jake is a bad parent or his disciplines are bad, I just know we are different, and I feel like the loving part of those mad moments are important for our young child. And really, I don't think I'm giving him enough credit, because I know it's not like I have to always ask him to do that part of it. It comes naturally for him pretty often, too. And I'm sure I don't ALWAYS do it. I'm not a perfect parent either.

But, we are parents. We are blessed with the burden of raising our children, in a household of trust and love.

I'm not writing this for any real purpose other than for myself to remember the conversation and these thoughts, but if someone else were to benefit, that's great, too.

Anyone have any input?

1 comment:

  1. Trevor and I had to come to that place too- to say "You made a bad choice, and there will be a consequence, but I still love you." It's so hard to do when you are super mad, but I can totally tell a difference in behavior if I am disciplining out of love rather than out of anger. Great post!