I want to be in an honest, respectful, trusting, caring relationship. My children are here because I decided to let them come here when the Spirit offered me this opportunity.
Giving him the ability to self-regulate; to take time to consider his actions; to learn to trust his decision making capability, these are tools he will use the rest of his life.
I am not a great parent. I don't define myself that way because it is not a useful way of orienting myself to the world. What I can say is that I work very hard on being a thoughtful parent, a listening parent, a mindful parent. This is the right style for me, in this moment, at this time. That is the absolutely most important part of my parenting. I try to always understand that my parenting practices are not fixed and immutable. They are ever adapting to the changing needs of my child.
So this is what works for me.
So, they’ve made their choice. And you are living with it. They don’t see the long term. that’s your job. I always make sure that they know the consequences of their choice. And have them repeat it back to me so I know that they understand.
The thing is, I am the grown up. The zoo will always be there. The puddle won't. There are times it just isn't about me. I wanted to go to the zoo. But, the outing was for the benefit of the child. If I want to go to the zoo so badly, I have the power to get some child care and go.
Find The Real Problem
Sometimes, when a child is resistant to the correct choice, there is actually a deeper underlying reason. In spite of believing that I am a fantastic active listener, at times, I am so far from being able to make that statement. It would almost seem like a delusional statement to my child.
Toilet training was one of those times. He was just a little over 2 years old. One day, he woke up and simply wouldn't let me change his diaper. Well, I did not wrestle him to the ground and change him. I let that diaper get ripe. I kept checking in with him about that diaper. Eventually, I needed to let him know I had to make a decision for his health and well-being. I said, "I'm going to take that diaper off because I don't want you to get sick. Do you want a new diaper?" He said, "No." and I stopped and thought about that. So I asked, "When I take your diaper off, you don't want a new diaper?" He said, "No diaper." That was was an epiphany moment for me. He had been presented with lots and lots of information about toileting. He wasn't being defiant. He was making a huge life decision and just needed a little space to commit. He never looked back. He never had an accident.
Every now and then I need to say, "Is this one of those times you need me to listen and not say anything?" This has done wonders for creating an atmosphere where the child is clear that this is almost an amnesty zone. A time when you can just let them work through all of their conflicting feelings and emotions without fear of a lecture, punishment, or advice. Sometimes, they need to hear themselves say things out loud so that they can find their way to their own solutions.
When they are done, you can ask. "Okay, so where are you with this situation? Do you need help? Would you like me to respond?" Sometimes they do. Sometimes, they don't. What they do learn is that you trust them to do their best to solve their own problems. And that you can help them find their own way.
I have come to see that when I offer care, concern, trust, respect and honor, I get it back.