This post is so timely for me, I'm having a parenting identity crises. I have been struggling with my ds 5 and and his behavior. He more or less got kicked out of a Montessori summer program this week. He's been out of control for awhile. This is in part because I was too permissive, which is not part of UP or CL. I am conflicted about UP and some of the methods I've been practicing. I had this realization yesterday or the day before that UP and CL are two completely different things. I started out loving UP philosophy and ended up somehow trying to practice CL which wasn't really my intention. How ironic that I saw someone point out the distinction between the two here today. I too found myself getting bogged down in every little detail and I think both DS and I were drowning in the details. All of the open endedness, coming up with solutions and doing things for intrinsic reasons seemed too abstract for him.
I started out loving UP because it was value based and not fear driven. I placed values ahead of good behavior. I was crazy about the idea of raising a kind and morally pure child that wouldn't be tainted by external motivators.The idea of bribing children to do the right thing never felt right to me but previously I hadn't known any alternatives. As strange as it may sound everything and everyone in my frame of reference was very mainstream and mostly either too permissive or too authoritarian. Not to say this is how all mainstream parents are but just a lot of the ones I experienced.
In my quest to learn more about UP I started learning about other parenting methods of similar philosophies and CL kind of crept it's way on to my radar. I liked the idea of a child collaborating and coming up with solutions. Again, this so out of the realm of my experiences. I still vividly remember times in my life as a teenager and even older being startled by the simple solutions people would come up with to solve problems. I had such a fatalistic perspective of a bump in the road as being the end of the road. I think part of this was because of how I was raised, decisions were made for me and the only thing to do was accept them. I wanted my son to be able to think creatively to solve problems. What I imagined was a thoughtful, respectful negotiator. After a while of picking apart every little thing, finding ways to please him in every situation that presented itself, he seemed more like a bully and a tyrant than an internally motivated, kind, respectful problem solver. I fully admit the problem could have been and I'm sure was in part me, in the execution of the methods. But my son fully expected to placated in some way, to some extent in every situation and when he wasn't all heck broke lose. Sometimes he would whine and cry and others he would have aggressive, violent outbursts. He could not handle "no" at all. This culminated with being told the school was not a good fit for him. Sometimes in life it's not going to go his way, it's just not. That's not only coming from me, we don't live in a bubble, his peers aren't always going to try to please him and he was frequently at odds with other children over this, his teacher and other family members also aren't always going to try to please him.
So I've been thinking things over a lot. Happiness is not always getting your way. If a person can only be happy when things go their way, they will never truly be happy because everything can not always go your way. A person must learn to find some happiness and inner peace despite that. I think the ability to move on and be happy and calm even when things aren't going well is a true indicator of happiness and coping skills. I am still at odds with myself because rationally and logically both UP and CL make sense to me, I hear the argument and believe it. I want so much for it to work and foster wonderful traits in my son. I'm not sure what I'm doing next. Right now, I'm working on dealing with no. He got physical with a girl at school because it wasn't his turn on the tire swing. Today he had a meltdown because I was using the computer and he wanted to use it. I didn't try to work out a solution with him that we would both be satisfied with. I told him no, I'm using it now. He had a tantrum, when I sensed it was losing steam, I had him take some deep breaths and talked about ways to calm himself down. I should say earlier today I had a talk with him about ways to stay calm and deal with his emotions. I told him he had an imaginary tool box, with tools, like taking deep breaths, drawing pictures about how he feels, instead of yelling, throwing, hitting, etc. I don't want to use rewards or punishments just calming down skills. Once he masters that maybe we can try again to work toward mutually acceptable solutions. I'm not sure. It's only been a few days of trying this and having these talks with him but so far he hasn't used them without pressure from me. I'm still conflicted because now I feel like the tyrant laying down the law and he can take it or not. Which is what I was trying to avoid in the first place. I did tell him tonight if he didn't calm down we were not going out ( we had plans to go have pizza with friends). I didn't really intend it to be punitive but more matter of fact, it is not acceptable to behave that way in public and be disruptive toward others. In a way I just feel like I've gone full circle and am more or less back to where I was before CL and UP.