I remember calling my Mom when E was going through an especially trying phase of tantrums and refusing to listen to even the most basic directions in our routine. We were at our wits ends. We had grounded her from activities, taken away practically everything but her mattress, suspended allowance, manual labor, you name it (of course we tried a variety of positive reinforcement as well – don’t get all antsy on me!). Nothing phased her and day after day was a constant battle over everything from the color of the sky to whether or not she needed to wear socks.
I remember my Mom asking me “Well, what’s her currency?” (Admittedly, I also remember doing an eye roll “What the heck, Mom. Throw me a bone!” into the phone.)
She continued. “What’s her currency? What does she value? What is she willing to exchange (or not willing to exchange)?” This started to make a bit more sense.
Let me explain with an example. I was a super reader growing up. I devoured books and spent a good portion of my time, alone, reading in my little wonder world of imagination and I loved every second of it. Needless to say, grounding me was not my currency. That was like winning the lottery! You mean, you’re going to make me stay in my room all day if I do this? WIN! (For what it’s worth…my currency was going to bed early. I was terrified of the dark and wanted to go to bed at the same time as my sister so that she was there at the ready to be sacrificed to any monsters so that they would pass me by…seriously, that was my strategy. What can I say? I’m a survivor.)
Today I took away E’s wireless access. These days she loves to be locked up in her room for 23 out of 24 hours in the day with her endless supply of gadgets, Snapchatting and Facebooking herself to oblivion with all of her little friends who live and breathe to do the same thing. I realized after a day of yelling, fighting, back talk, attitude and countless efforts to get her to “snap out of it,” that she wasn’t getting the message. I considered her currency and acted on it. While I hate to make her miserable, even momentarily, I needed her to clearly get the message to wake up and get back in the game with her family and that her behavior wouldn’t be tolerated.
Sometimes being a parent sucks. Ok, a lot of times it sucks. No one wants to be the bad guy. And in this scenario, it can be especially challenging because we’re a blended family. At the end of the day, I have to remind myself that I’m not my children’s friend. I’m their parent. And sometimes that means making the hard decisions to teach them how to be better people.
What’s your children’s currency? What method works best for you? Time outs? Chore charts? Stickers? I’d love to hear your thoughts, as I’m just now starting to tackle this with the boys.
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How to Avoid the Epic Meltdown: Understanding Your Child’s Cues
Duh, duh, duh….the dreaded meltdown. With one kid, this can bring the strongest mommy to her knees. With multiples, well…the word “epic” takes on a completely new meaning. In the worst possible way.
Moral of the story? A little organization and forethought can go a long way. Considering WHY my kids were throwing tantrums and then exploring what I could do to prevent them before they started has saved me a million tears. Like I said, it’s not a perfect system. But every little bit helps.
How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child’s Cues
Every day I pick up my children from day care to hear “They are such great kids! They had a blast today and are some of the best listeners we’ve ever had. They’re so well-behaved!” Yay, Mama win! And then we go home and they act like total demon-infested, hell-raising psychos and won’t listen to a word I say. Weekends can be brutal and I sometimes find myself praising Jesus that I decided to keep working and not stay-at-home.
sweet kids from day care?
Best Thing I Ever Did: I went to pick the kids up one day and they were enjoying themselves, so I decided to just sit and watch for a bit and let them play. Funny thing happened. I started listening to how the day care teachers communicated with my children and how they responded. And the light bulb went off. I don’t know how to speak the language my kids understand.
I started listening harder. And then I came back the next day and did it again. Now, every time I drop off or pick up, I listen. How are they talking to my kids? What are they saying? How are the kids responding? And then I mimick it at home.
Major win!!! My kids are starting to see an extension of their daily routine back into the home and it’s making sense. I say certain words they’re used to hearing and like magic, they listen. Not every time (which I suspect also happens at day care), but the majority of time. Major improvement. We are starting to speak the same language.
Sometimes I forget (or refuse to admit) that I am not my children’s primary care provider. For those of us that work outside the home, most often our kids spend the majority of their time somewhere other than with us. Sometimes, being reminded of that hurts. A lot. But truth is, they develop routines, cues and references that we’re not familiar with. We need to learn the language they are used to hearing every day so that we can communicate our needs in a way they understand. I need to speak my children’s language.
Phrase Adjustments that Worked for Me:
- “Walk away please” instead of “No!” or “Don’t Touch!”
- “Are you using your listening ears?” instead of “Listen to me!”
- “I’m going to go to work for awhile, but Mommies always come back!” instead of “Say bye to Mommy. I have to go to work.”
11 Alternatives to Self Harm: Emily Speaks
If you’re just connecting with the Emily Speaks series, be sure to check out her first post, Cyber Bullying and Self-Harm, to catch up. Today, Emily will be sharing 11 alternatives to self harm to help those hurting to make healthier choices to cope with emotional struggles.
I know it can be hard not to self-harm if you’re being bullied, but you need to try to think of other ways to deal with the pain. Cutting leaves angry scars on your body. You should try to deal with your hurt in other ways. Here are 11 good examples that will hopefully help you out a little bit.
1. Try talking to somebody about what’s going on so that you can get it out of your system.
2. Go outside where nobody is around and just scream as loud as you can for as long as you want.
3. Take a rubber band and keep it on your wrist so whenever you feel like cutting you can just take that rubber band and snap it on your wrist (softly – not to where it harms you).
4. Get an old teddy bear or stuffed animal that you don’t want and take your anger out on that.
5. Go on a jog or go out and ride your bike or long board or whatever you have and just ride around to calm yourself down.
6. Go hang out with your friend(s) and get your mind off things that would make you want to cut or do anything else to harm yourself.
7. Sleep it out and take a long nap and see how you’re feeling when you wake up.
8. Go hang out with your family and just relax.
9. Listen to some music.
10. Read a book.
11. Get an art journal and draw out your feelings. You can paint, draw pictures, even just scribble hard.
These are some of the ways that I stop myself from cutting, because I do still think about it when things get rough. When that happens, I try to do these instead and it helps. It does! You need to do anything that would take your mind off of any bad thoughts you are having and make you want to hurt yourself. This might not be the best list of ideas, but if you take a chance and try them out, they might end up working for you. You’re not only helping yourself, but you’re helping everyone else around you by making a better choice to not self-harm.