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parenting on the fringe support group 12/1

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
(okay, i know this needs a better title. someone please come up with one! i'm too tired to think creatively at this late hour)

this is a discussion group for parents who are trying to respect their children's sovereignty; who are interested in guiding and modeling rather than shaping and correcting; who see behavior problems as symptoms of an underlying distress to be addressed, rather than just an occasion for discipline; and who are aware of their own emotional landscape as they help their children learn to manage emotional reactions... (and any additions or reworkings of this summary are also welcomed)

we agreed in an earlier thread that a weekly thread would be helpful. i'm thinking if we can each post a situation in which we creatively resolved a problem or conflict and/or a instance that felt like we could have responded better, but we're not sure how, plus any feed back for other posters we may have, that we should generate a useful and inspiring resource.

i'll start with what i can remember of my week at this late hour...

a perennial problem that we have with our nearly 4yo dd is this -- i don't know if it's because home is just too fun or if it's an artifact of her introverted personality, but she resists going anywhere a good 80 percent of the time. i'm not talking just errands; even fun outings to the park, a farm, the train museum. we obviously don't force her into the car, but we do spend a great deal of time trying to convince her that the outing would be fun. many times we just give up because we're not invested in the outing enough to make it worth the effort of trying to convince her. i'm wondering two things: one, does anyone have any ideas for convincing reluctant travelers to leave home? and two, should we just be reducing our expectations of how much gadding about we'll be able to do for the next X number of years? if our kids are happy staying at home, are we depriving them of stimulation by not dragging them off to interesting places?

as for a success story, i don't know if this counts, but i noticed a couple times this week was that i was able to not escalate a conflict with my dd. for example, on thanksgiving, with extended family visiting, i was trying to do a tarot reading for my mom when maddie wanted my attn. i tried to finish the reading but maddie wasn't able to wait and lost it, grabbing at the cards and throwing them across the floor. i got furious but as my anger flashed i was able to peripherally note that i was self-conscious about what the others were thinking of maddie's behavior.
somehow, i managed not to lose it by telling maddie, albeit through gritted teeth, that i was feeling very angry that she had messed up my reading. she was upset too and wailed that she wanted me to stop and pay attention to her, and i said that i understood, but i was still angry about what she had done. somehow, just saying that to her in a (fairly) calm way stopped my anger short and enabled me to just let the whole situation go. i can't even say that i was able to brainstorm a solution with her for other ways we could have resolved the situation; i was so amazed that i was able to let go of my rage so quickly that that was plenty for me.
i still struggle with voices in my head that say "she's behaving like a spoiled brat! you can't let her get away with that!" i'm pretty sure they are just echoes of my childhood conditioning, but sometimes i wonder if they're right nonetheless... anyone else hear those thoughts and wonder whether they should believe them?
post #2 of 32
Quote:
i still struggle with voices in my head that say "she's behaving like a spoiled brat! you can't let her get away with that!" i'm pretty sure they are just echoes of my childhood conditioning, but sometimes i wonder if they're right nonetheless... anyone else hear those thoughts and wonder whether they should believe them?
Everyday!!! This is a constant struggle that I have, and dh struggles with this too...I keep telling him that if Soleil was a spoiled brat, she wouldn't be so sensitive to us and our feelings...
Having said this, I guess the difficulty I'm having with Soleil is that she has been getting frustrated much to quickly and quick to give up...ie in gymnastics, there are only 4 of them, and two coaches, but as soon as Soleil feels that they are not paying attention to her...she turns away and sulks....remember, she is at this time, our only child...I don't know how to handle this....
My high as a parent this week, is that I did not let frustration overcome me with Soleil...I managed to stay on an even keel all week..though I was away for 2 days...now, i'm entering my five days at home...which I am much looking forward too...
Quote:
if our kids are happy staying at home, are we depriving them of stimulation by not dragging them off to interesting places?
I don't think so,,,I have an extremely extrovert child though, and don't know what I would do in your shoes...but seems to me if they're happy....then there's no problem, right?
post #3 of 32
Thanks for being here.

I just got off the phone with my MIL who asks, is she sleeping on her own yet?

But I really needed to come back to these boards after we visited a bookstore this weekend. Dh wanted to Christmas shop for me, I took Dd to the kids section so as to limit her damage potential (I have a thread on letting her loose in the store).

There I met two of the most grating parents I've ever beheld. Dads, I'm sorry to say. Pitting a competition against their two toddlers, over who can do what.

I took Dd over to some stuffed animals and got out a snake. I showed her how nice and soft it was and what a silly face it had, but the other kids, a little older, saw her and started to run up to her. Dd is cautious and reserved, and dropped the snake and came back to me, to just hold on and take in the situation until she figured out what was going on.

Dad of the older kid waves the snake at her and says "Zeldegarde (my name for argument's sake), what color is this snake?"

Zeldegarde: Yellow

Dad: Yes! Right!! What color is That Girl's (pointing to Dd) clothes???

Zeledegard barely took a look at Dd's purple outfit. "Yellow," she said. Guess since it was right once, she'd go with it again.

Dad went into a whole lesson about the purple, then the drilling started again.


I know this man means well for his child, and I do not judge him in any way, I don't think it's possible based on this one incident, nor is it my place. What I do notice is that my parenting style is sooo different. I do not teach, I do not quiz. I talk to Dd, we do things together (she likes to clean food stains underneath the high chair with me, we talk about who has the yellow sponge and who has the pink one, how funny and squishy they are, what fun is is to use the spray bottle and scrub until the spots are gone).

Mostly I emphasize use of the senses, and that we are having fun together. There is lots of conversation with and around Dd, between me and Dh.

I think it is important that Dd learn that she is loved (and for who she is, not what she can do), has people she can rely on, to observe and use her senses to take things in, and to develop a sense of enjoyment. If all that is in place, the important facts and figures will come on their own, I am certain.

Part of why I feel this confidence is from being around the boards here. I think if I had walked into that store and seen this, without the support of everyone here, I would be sitting her seriously questioning my approach right not. Not to say that I wouldn't come right to where I am, but with a lot more angst.

Thanks again!
post #4 of 32
I am so glad to see this weekly thread!!

Not too much time to write but a quick success?! story...

Last week I met my dh after work to have dinner before swimming lessons with our ds Cassidy who is 3yo. To make a long story short, Cass was very tired and ended up having a tantrum about who would take him to the bathroom. We tried talking to him, giving him some space to calm down...but it was getting time to leave or we would be late. So dh and I decide that swimming lessons are not worth forcing a kicking and screaming toddler in the car...Anyway, he finally gets calmed down and eats his dinner but by then we are way past swimming lessons time. We get into the car and tell him we have missed swimming lessons and have to go home. He loses it! I think he was as mad as I have ever seen him...totally frustrated. We try to explain that we wouldn't take him when he was so upset and we are proud of him for calming down and that there will be lots more swimming lessons. He falls asleep on the way home, but then wakes up several times in the night still crying about needing to go to swimming lessons etc. So, I'm feeling really guilty, did we do the right thing? Should we have taken him to the pool to show him the lessons were over? I was worried he would wake up still very upset. But the next morning he wakes up sweet as can be, with lots of smiles and cuddles. We talk about the night very briefly but he seems totally over it! He seems to have totally accepted the natural consequences of his actions and even tells me what he would do different next time. We talk about how "big boys" learn from their mistakes...So, now I think it worked out for the best??? What do you guys think???

Our big issue right now is about not getting what he wants when he wants it!! Does that some it all up or what?!! I try to give him choices of what are possible options but he is so determined and is not easily side tracked. He uses all my own language against me and says I am hurting his feelings...but many times what he wants is just not an option!!!

I think we all have that conversation in our head about our kids being spoiled brats...but I just remind myself that every kid and every parent has bad moments that does not mean we are bad people...I think about that a alot when I see bad parenting situations in public and I try to find ways to support the parents (and/or kids) even if it's just a pat of the back to say I know how it feels to have child take a tantrum in public!

Thanks for listening!!
Jen
post #5 of 32
Thread Starter 
Wow, it does my heart good to hear that you are all dealing with the same issues and conflicts! It makes me feel like maddie’s struggles are normal (of course, if I think about it too hard, I realize we’re all attempting the same sort of parenting, and it could be that it’s just failing for all of us, but I’m not going there. my brain can make me crazy

Mamasoleil: congratulations on maintaining your center! That’s a genuine triumph to achieve… and regarding soleil’s gymnastics classes, my dd is quickly frustrated and gives up easily too. I think that may be how they will be for years to come. (I know plenty of adults who have a very low threshold for frustration and not having things go their way….) presuming she wants to continue with the gymnastics classes, all I can suggest at the moment is what I’m trying with maddie (who, fwiw, is not an only child, she has a 1 yo brother and demands one parent’s attention much of the time whenever we are both home. Curiously, she is more independent when it’s just me and the two of them.)
I say something like “how are you feeling right now?” and she says mad or frustrated and wails that she’s not getting attention. I say, “yes, you’re feeling very frustrated with dad and me. You want our attn but we’re not giving it to you right now.” (I’ve stopped reiterating why we can’t give it too her. That seems to prompt just more protests from her.) And then I try to point out that her feelings will change, which she doesn’t want to hear. And I ask her what might make her feel better, and depending on how worked up she is she might be able to answer a hug or her milk bottle (yes, she still drinks out of a bottle). If she can’t, I just revisit those three themes, how she feels, that our feelings are always changing and what might help her to feel better now. I can’t say with any certainty if this is the best or even right solution, but it makes sense to me and it at least doesn’t escalate things. Of course all this is hard to do in the middle of gymnastics practice, I guess you’d have to wait until after. But it also sounds like she’s not even reacting that strongly, so maybe you don’t even need to address it every time it happens.

Curious: aaugh, MILs! Mine can make me totally crazy… I’m so glad you’re finding validation here. I really need it too, esp. when it seems like nobody else around me even begins to think this way about parenting. And I’m focusing right now on not getting so reactive about parenting I sometimes witness. It makes me miserable, but it’s so hard for me to let go of it. So glad to hear from you again!

And jen: when I read your story I kept saying to myself, yes, yes, that’s exactly what maddie has done, on numerous occasions! Even down to the waking up in the night crying about the unfilled want! My heart eased a bit, realizing that other kids go through the same intense, contradictory-seeming, self-defeating, crazy, destabilizing fits. And she also wakes up the next day sunny as can be. And I think it was definitely a success story to help him through that with the support and non-judging you provided!
One thing made me feel a great deal of relief was reading the nov/dec mothering issue article on tantrums, which basically said they’re normal and necessary, kids need to tantrum to release pent up negative emotions that have been building, and that all we need to do is to stand by as patiently and calmly as we can and offer them whatever comfort and support they will accept. And that it’s not a failure of our parenting. There’s no way we could prevent them from happening.
post #6 of 32
It's a relief to hear some similar stories, and furthermore, similar responses!!!
Jen~your experience was so familiar, and I applaud you're sensitivity to his feelings....

Thank goodness for this thread!

Kuddos to you Sueami!!!!

Quote:
I say something like “how are you feeling right now?” and she says mad or frustrated and wails that she’s not getting attention. I say, “yes, you’re feeling very frustrated with dad and me. You want our attn but we’re not giving it to you right now.” (I’ve stopped reiterating why we can’t give it too her. That seems to prompt just more protests from her.) And then I try to point out that her feelings will change, which she doesn’t want to hear. And I ask her what might make her feel better, and depending on how worked up she is she might be able to answer
I have had that exact conversation with Soleil!!!
post #7 of 32
Thread Starter 
mamasoleil, i'm so glad to hear that you came to the same response! that makes me feel much better about it, that it makes intuitive sense for both of us. boy, how wonderfully validating this discussion is for me. i feel like i'm groping in the dark so much of the time. i'm glad you all have lit some candles!

edited to add: i keep meaning to come back to your response about staying home if the kids are happy with it. what keeps me from just accepting the situation is that my husband and i do want to go out and do fun things with the kids and we feel housebound sometimes by dd's obstinancy. i guess i wonder how many of our desires we should put aside for now. it's that delicate balancing act of responding to their needs/wants while meeting your own, i guess. do you try to get your needs and wants met or do you determine what's the bare minimum that keep you from being resentful, or what? anyone have any thoughts on this?
post #8 of 32
Hi Sue, I've been thinking about your dd and the not wanting to leave the house thing, and was wondering if she's been able to tell you any more specifics. Can she express what she doesn't like exactly... does she get car sick? Or not like specific children that you might visit? Does she have something she was already planning to do that day, and not want to change her plans? I'm just thinking I might be able to offer more concrete ideas knowing her reasons. Or maybe she just has a general introverted nature?
Thanks for any more info you have!
post #9 of 32
'Lo! All the best to everyone in your conscious parenting endeavors!

Some things I intend to be mindful of this week:

1. Giving her constructive outlets for her aggression

2. Assisting her as she starts to learn about making friends

3. Improving my communication with her

Have already seen some good stuff in her dealings with other children. When we went to the playground this am she asked to pick out toys that she wanted to share with others. Of course she changed her mind before we got to the park, but I'll happily take that :LOL! And she just spent half an hour playing with two other children sans grabbing, squabbling, etc.

But she has been experimenting with her aggression to see what reaction she gets. This past weekend she pulled the shirt of one of her friends and he started crying. She understood the consequences of what she did and I was happy to hear her say she didn't want to make him sad and she was sorry. So I want to keep building on her realizations and help her understand more .
post #10 of 32
Quote:
. i guess i wonder how many of our desires we should put aside for now. it's that delicate balancing act of responding to their needs/wants while meeting your own, i guess. do you try to get your needs and wants met or do you determine what's the bare minimum that keep you from being resentful, or what? anyone have any thoughts on this?
I can't comment on this right now...cause I'm in a totally euphoric state....(just found out I'm with child #2)!!!

But it's a good question, once soleil is in bed, I'll come down and discuss my philosophy on that!

Hey Lee~I love your mindful intentions this week!! (did you hear my news???? )
post #11 of 32

Congratulations mamasoleil,

You'll have to change your sig now!
post #12 of 32
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post #13 of 32
ok, this doesn't really fit with the theme of the thread... but I have something I've been thinking about tonight, and this seems like a good place to bring it up. This is going to sound kind of crazy, like heresy, but I was wondering if maybe it's really ok to give in to your child's tantrums. I know, I know, it's wacky. But I don't mean all the time, and I don't know about older kids as my ds is only 21 mos.

But I'm realizing that almost all his tantrums are about the same basic issue - his desire for independence and competence. Things he's tantrumed about recently are: wanting to get into his high chair on his own, not be strapped in, get in and out at will and play during the meal; wanting to brush his own teeth (I can't give in completely on this of course, but I did start letting him have two brushes of his own, so he doesn't have a hand free to grab mine, and letting him brush first); not wanting the food I made for him, but wanting to get in the fridge and choose his own (this involves him dragging out a bunch of glass jars and leftovers which is why I've said no in the past, but now I'm rethinking it); wanting to hold his own open cup of water, and to have an open cup not one with a lid, which often involves a spill and an outfit change for us both... etc, etc. They all have a common theme of him wanting to do something that practically speaking he isn't able to do as well as me, but I think I have been too stubborn about things like this.

Maybe if my DS is tantruming, it should tell me something. Maybe I should step back and take a look and ask myself if I'm the one being unreasonable? I've been following the advice to just ignore tantrums. DP follows this advice better than I do, and does have success with ignoring, in that DS has many fewer tantrums when he's with DP. So, maybe I should just ignore more completely. But I can't help thinking that maybe instead I should listen to my DS, not ignore him, and go ahead and "give in." Is this really so different than when the "experts" say not to "give in" to a crying baby, but by being in touch with our baby we know that responding is the only way to go. He didn't suddenly stop being my baby, kwim?

What do you guys think? You can be brutally honest, it won't bother me a bit
post #14 of 32
Susan~your post totally makes sense to me, and I do parent that way.
Quote:
Maybe if my DS is tantruming, it should tell me something. Maybe I should step back and take a look and ask myself if I'm the one being unreasonable?
Definitely...maybe you have, I can't remember, but did you read any of Coloroso's books...one thing that really stuck with me, was CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES, I try so hard not to let NO be the first word out upon request...(I'm sure we all do), I always say, Let me think about this...this way, upon reflecting on her request IE want a cup with no lid, hmm...is this really a big deal? So I'll say, "Okay, you can have this cup with no lid, but you have to A~ sit at your table/highchair or b~stay in the kitchen with that..
this gives your child the confidence and pride, that you are listening, and also, you don't say no, then two seconds later, say, oh okay....then when the real important NO comes out, your child will second guess...kwim? As they get older, the issues evolve, but it's exactly what you described, a struggle for their independence...and as Coloroso askes herself with her kids was A~Is it morally threatening, B~Is it life threatening, if no...then hey...go with it...
Example'm at the coffee bar with Soleil, and there is a mother there with a 5 yr old...the five yr old wants to sit on this bar at the stool, rather than on the stool itself, and it's hard to describe, but it's really NO BIG deal, NOR dangerous, NOR anything...the whole time we're there, this mother and daughter engage in a power struggle, the mom doesn't give up, and she leaves, daughter in tow, in a rage...I"m thinking..."Why didn't she just let the kid sit on the bar? What was the deal????", Soleil is looking at me, like WHAT was that?
Anyway, sorry if I"m rambling, I just really agree with your post Susan!
post #15 of 32
Susan 123,

Maybe get a small table and chair set for him to eat at.....for snacks I let my 14mos twins eat at the small table in our kitchen. They are learning to eat only in the kitchen as well. Also maybe set up a "special space" for your son in the refrigerator. My older daughter has a snack tray in our fridge and can access it any time she wants. We've been doing this since she was 2yo. I also let my kids do the teeth brushing in the AM and an adult MUST brush their teeth at night.
A majority of these ideas came from Marie Montessori's philosophies. Maybe reading some of her work might give you more ideas on "giving in to a tantrum".
I personally don't think you are giving in if you make the move towards independence easier.
post #16 of 32
Since we are fairlly new to toddlerdom, it's interesting to read about what's ahead. So many people told me what work a baby was, but I'm finding this stage more challenging. There is more to deal with and it's less mechanical (cry --->respond) and more intricate dealing with personality and communication and deciding what's worth a battle and what isn't (so far I've found little that is worth a battle, but as I said, I'm early into this).

Mamasoliel - congratulations. Your announcement flooded me with memories, since I had Dd in August and it was right around this time of year that I learned I was pregnant.
post #17 of 32
Hi - Can I join in? Congratulations MamaSoleil!

I can't comment yet on some of the dilemmas presented here, as ds is only 18 months old. But the situation I was going to ask about is related to Susan's.

I am big into not grabbing stuff from ds, but rather asking for it, exchanging it for something else, etc. Of course, there have been times when I've lost my patience or it's no longer practical to continue negotiating and I've just taken the item. He's always gotten over it quickly but I've never felt good about it. Today I was buying something with my credit card, and he really wanted to grab it. So I let him hold it. As we were leaving the store, I wanted to get it back for 2 reasons: 1 - I didn't want him to drop it and lose it, and 2 - I had just gotten this replacement as he had bent my last one in half while I was letting him play with it. So I asked him if I could have the card back. He wouldn't give it to me. (He is not talking yet.) I explained that we were leaving the store and I needed to put the card away. Nothing. I offered him the car keys in exchange. Nope. So then I said, okay, go ahead and hold onto, but let's be careful not to bend it, all the while thinking well, I'll just have to keep a close eye on it. Of course, as we were walking out with him holding the credit card, all I could think was that I totally gave in, and did not follow through on saying that I needed to have the card back. So will he not listen to me when I say it next time? How will he know when he has to give it back and when he doesn't? Aren't I setting myself up for future conflict by not following through when I tell him I need him to do something?

But on reflection, I was thinking about the opposite situation: When I have something that he wants, and how I expect him to react. I expect him to ask me for it, and sometimes I can give it to him but sometimes I can't. But if I can't give it to him, I don't expect him to then grab it out of my hands or have a meltdown about it, so why would I react that way to him?

So do you just approach these things on a case by case basis, or do you have an overall approach that you are consistent about?

MamaOui - about the sharing thing. Ds is younger, so maybe this is not realistic with an older kid, but if the other kid is not sharing, I try to engage ds in another activity. Ds is usually really good about sharing, but sometimes he just doesn't want to throw the ball, and I don't feel good forcing him to if it's his ball. So I guess I don't like to make a big deal about the other kid not sharing, although it can irk me sometimes when it is so obviously one sided. And I too have definitely done the hovering thing, usually to make sure the other kid isn't grabbing stuff out of ds's hands. And I have sometimes asked the other kid if there was anything he wasn't playing with right now that ds could look at, but very gently.

What I Need to Continue to Work On: Not losing my temper and getting exasperated when ds isn't on the same program that I'm on. I need to be more patient and understanding that he deserves the same respect for what he is into at the moment, as I do for what I want to get done that moment, and that this needs to be a balanced, mutually respectful relationship, not me imposing my will on him all day long simply because I'm bigger than he is.
post #18 of 32
Hello Curoius,

I actually had more fun with toddlerdom then with the baby stage. I have the twins and am looking forward to the 18-24 mos mark. For whatever reason, I prefer this age and feel I am better at problem solving it as well. My good friend always encourages the phrase the terrific twos!!! And I agree.........

I agree with the battle theory........very few battles and lots of let me think on its and yeses even if it is for the future. Example: "yes we can make a graham cracker gingerbreadhouse. Tomorrow afternoon we'll go to the store to get what we need and then (checking the calender) we'll invite Julia over on Fri to help us". Works almost ever time with my 4 yo.
post #19 of 32
Thread Starter 

wow! much interesting discussion...

and all in the last few hours! i wish i could keep up with it all. just had a few thoughts i wanted post.
first things first though, congratulations Mamasoleil! what an exciting new adventure is beginning! thinking about your happiness made me long (however briefly) for another child. but i'm just about over my head as it is (sigh.)
susan123 -- i agree with what others have said. i don't even frame it as giving in any more. more like "i misread how much they needed to explore something." i try to give my kids as much leeway as they ask for/demand. although if i'm really tired of messes i'll limit it to two outfit-destroying activities per day. most of the activities i want to resist i can't really justify denying them if i look at it closely. they're all developmentally driven and are rarely a true threat to life and limb. my husband and i call it "exploring the universe one mess at a time."

oceanbaby -- we came to the same conclusion you did, in a related conflict, which i think i mentioned in the old thread. it was a huge relief to us to realize that instead of feeling like we had to stand our ground (and suffer the tantrum, which didn't seem to be teaching her anything good) we could choose instead to model consideration/flexibility/cooperation, depending on the conflict.

good suggestion, cakes, about saying yes, in the near future when circumstances allow it. we find that it works pretty well with our daughter too.

mamaoui, that's a very good question you pose about playground sharing and defending your child's space. i wonder if i'm handling that right also. we have that situation with our pretty introverted dd, when she plays with others. like oceanbaby, i don't make maddie share if she doesn't want to, though if the other kid is upset, i'll talk about how sad he seems and remind her that she felt sad like that when someone didn't share with her. then i drop it. i step in if someone is taking a toy away from madeline and say gently, she's playing with that right now. then i ask maddie if the kid can use another toy, and she usually says yes. i guess my theory is to model how they should respond and maybe try to prompt an empathic response. maybe that's too intrusive though...
well, it's far too late and i should sleep. great posts everyone!
post #20 of 32
Hi ,

Just a quick note saying how much I appreciate these postings. I spend too much time reading them and now have a whining toddler pulling at my arms, so no time for anythign other than THANKS!
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