When I had two toddlers, I recall being in awe of parents who remained calm and kind, regardless of recent kid drama. I admired their style but couldn’t quite master it myself. I’ll never forget the time Mr.8 was just a little guy and somehow fingernail polish spilled all over a friend’s guest room comforter while he played with a friend. I was probably freaking out because I was hungry and the dinner portion of the party hadn’t begun and who knows what havoc tiny Ms.6 had recently wreaked. I remember the sensation of losing control when the other kid’s dad, Dan, walked in the room. Just in time. He kneeled down and asked questions. No judgements, just questions. He talked to the boys, explained they needed to tell our hosts what had happened and asked if they had any questions. I think he sensed I wasn’t handling the situation well so he took the reins and dealt with the issue at hand.
REACTION — I blamed, assuming the boys made a terrible choice and ruined the party. I lost my calm and fingernail polish on the guest comforter became the worst possible scenario. I was miserable and it was these children’s fault. And one of them wasn’t even mine! My husband was out of town for the week with work and I was freaking out and needed to be home.
Please note, it’s all about me. I’m embarrassed and having a crappy day. I want the little brats to pay for their mistake. It’s all ME ME ME.
RESPONSE — Dan walked into the situation with zero assumptions. He asked questions to gain information. He stayed calm and reassured the very worried boys that everything was fine. Rather than lecture them about their mistake, he spoke about respecting personal property and keeping fingernail polish closed tight. He was empathetic and understanding but firm at the same time. In other words, he focused on the relationship, not the behavior.
Please note, it’s not all about him. It’s about these two little boys and the fingernail polish on the guest comforter. His ego isn’t the focus of the conversation. It’s all THEM THEM THEM.
Let’s just say I was impressed. This Positive Discipline stuff was easy when everybody was behaving but I had no idea how to handle the hot moments when emotions ran high. I needed somebody to say “Respond to your child’s emotions rather than react to their behavior. Remain respectful and kind outwardly, no matter how mad you are on the inside.” Positive Discipline is a work in progress for every parent – just hearing these words would not have been a panacea but they were food for thought I needed.
Perhaps these are the words you need to read today. If not, maybe tomorrow or the next day. After all, gentle parenting is a work in progress and inward reflection often brings outward success. Blessings on your Positive Discipline journey.