The Positive Discipline Tool we are looking at this week is Control Your Behavior. This is the one tool that I can say that I work on the most. In fact, I have this card hanging on my fridge as a reminder for myself.
The card says that we can't expect our children to control their behavior if we can 't control ours. We need to have a place or space for our own "personal time-outs" or at least a method such as counting to ten to help cool down when we flip our lid. When we do lose control we must apologize to our children. Remember, modeling mistakes as opportunities to learn is always the best way to teach that concept.
The reason that I constantly need to work on this tool is because parenting is a tough job, that requires a TON of patience. Before I had children I would openly admit that I wasn't a very patient person. I have a hot temper and I have trouble holding my tongue at times. Now that I have children, I know patience like I never thought possible, but I still lose control of my behavior at times. I have to constantly remind myself that if I flip my lid, the children will respond (mirror neurons) in the same way!
I often joke that between 4:00-5:00 pm is the witching hour in my home. Both children and I are tired, hungry, and crabby. I am trying to fix dinner, my daughter is trying to do homework, and the baby is very needy. This is the time of day that I find it the most difficult to control my behavior. Knowing this, I have been attempting to prep meals as much as possible during his naps and try to help my daughter with homework as soon as she gets home from school. If 4 o'clock rolls around and we are all in the living room playing together it makes for a much more peaceful afternoon. Planning and consideration of needs is a big part in controlling your own behavior. Set yourself up for success!
Another time that I find it difficult to remain in control of my own behavior is when being yelled at or physically hurt. I am learning that elementary age children are quite moody and argumentative at times. This can be pretty challenging to deal with. On the other hand, our little boy has reached a new stage of development where he doesn't quite understand that other people feel pain, but he rather enjoys seeing the results of his inflicting pain. He pinches, hits, scratches, pokes, and basically does what he can to get a rise out of us. And he does it all with a smile. Call me crazy, but when I am being hit over the head with a wooden horse, I find it hard to maintain control of my behavior. With my daughter we use tools like, Hugs, Wheel of Choice, and Positive Time-out to deal with her flipped lid. Sometimes they work great and other times I have to lock myself in the bathroom to get a moment to cool down myself. Either way I feel like we are working toward the right thing. With our son however, we are trying to encourage the behaviors we desire, like touching gently, and we are constantly distracting and redirecting him.
As we continue to work with various tools to help the children learn to control their behavior we must constantly work on doing the same. When we remain in control we are able to be better parents. It never feels good to lose control, especially when dealing my children. I continue to try to find relaxation techniques to help me remain calm and in control. I also have to remind myself to QTIP (quite taking it personally). When the children are pushing my buttons I have a hard time with this, but just taking a moment to remind myself that they are not trying to upset me, or even if they are it comes from a mistaken goal, and for that reason I shouldn't respond with anger or defensiveness. I hope to write about mistaken goals soon, it really is at the heart of positive discipline.
In the meantime I will work on controlling my behavior and encourage you to do the same. Next week's tool is the number one requirement for being a parent - have a sense of humor!