Del Alma: Stop Screaming
Try this exercise to understand just how completamente loca you look when you scream at your kids.
Sit in a chair. Then, ask a good friend to stand on a chair next to you and wag that dedo and scream and nag and nag and scream at you. Have them form the same kind of escandalo that you throw just before you aim that chancleta or let loose with the pow pow.
Too embarrassed? Try it by yourself by doing the same kind of crazy into a mirror you’ve placed on the floor, or on the chair.
This is what your small children see when you’ve lost your cool, your patience, your loving kindness.
Not exactly the person they should be looking up to.
I got a cold dose of this reality a few weeks ago at a talk given by Jane Nelsen, the founder of Positive Discipline. A friend wrangled me into it and I was expecting a dull lecture reminding me of all the ways I fail my child. But, when the woman next to me stood on the chair during the group exercise and yelled at me to stop whining, I was all “Oh, Dios Mio, Maria must think I am crazy.”
I don’t spank. I don’t hit. I wish I could take a big magic wand and remove that form of “discipline” from every culture in the land, not just ours. But, I am a gritona. Not always, but enough that I know I would die of mortification if anyone saw me lose my stuff on my hard-headed kid. Does it work? No. And the talk Nelsen offered really opened my eyes to the fact that yelling, shouting and other ways of attempting to “control” the kid’s behavior, really just serves to push them away from us. A heartbreaking realization.
On the face of it, Positive Discipline comes off as a lot of permissive blah blah blah. It isn’t. It’s about connection and understanding and respect. It does require the parent to stop and think before opening the mouth, to ask questions that are helpful and not shaming. For some of us with hair-triggers, it’s hard to do in the heat of the moment.
Personally, I have employed the tips I picked up in the lecture. I have asked my daughter questions about her behavior that have spawned amazing conversations. And, I have been working on getting her used to following the routine on her own, rather than my having to say “goupstairsgetreadyforbathgetyourteethbrushedpickabook” or “timetogotimetogotimetogoNOW.”
Progress, not perfection.
Here are some highlights from the lecture I attended in Nashville.
- Celebrate misbehavior. Que, que? Yes, it means they are working on individuation, a necessary step for growing up.
“Who they are today is not who they are going to be forever,” Nelsen said.
- Your child doesn’t listen? Then, you’re talking too much. Stop “telling” and start “asking.”
Ask “curiosity questions’‘ such as “What were you trying to accomplish when you did that?”; “What did you learn from it?”
- Instead of “Time Out” create a “Feel Good Space” or a “Cool Off Spot” for your children, and even for you. It teaches them to learn how to calm down without feeling punished or shamed. Teaches them adults need a cool off spot too.
- Kick “logical consequences” and focus on the “curiousity questions.” According to Nelsen, they do not invite the rebellion that logical consequences do.
- Instead of saying things like “Go brush your teeth” consider “What do you need to do so your teeth won’t feel icky?” or “What is next on your responsibility chart?” Why? It teaches problem solving, responsibility, problem solving, Nelsen said.
And, we all want that for our kids, don’t we?
Watch this hilarious and eye-opening video to see how children will do what works…