I’m sure we all know the feeling of eyeing off a child who is building up to a full blown tantrum in a check-out line… today that child was mine and I was the parent feeling edgy due to the eyes on me, silently saying “aren’t you going to do anything?!?”. I don’t blame Adventure Girl at all – what kid wants to be in a long line, stuck in their pram and with little stimulation? She certainly doesn’t and to be honest, it’s not my favourite place either. Today though we had a parenting success, proved by the completely different looks people gave me/her as we walked out the shops 10 minutes later. The success I wholly attribute to a seminar we attended last week run by clinical psychologist Colleen Hirst from Marylands Counselling. The seminar, Raising Children, gave those that attended practical take-home ideas to implement and in less than a week we’ve noticed a difference in our ability to communicate with our 15 month old.
So what did Colleen encourage us to do? Look our child in the eyes and talk to them. Sounds really simple right? It is and I feel daft for not doing so as much before! Instead of just giving Adventure Girl something to distract her as I would have done before, I got down on her level next to the pram, looked her in the eyes, explained we couldn’t move but that she could play with the paper I was giving her… and it worked! She happily played with that piece of paper for the next ten minutes while we were in the line! When we got out of the shops, once again, I knelt down next to her pram, looked her in the eyes and thanked her. As Colleen said, the praise to disapproval ratio in our language should be 5:1 (i.e. we praise them 5 times more than we pick them up on things). While many other things were mentioned in the Raising Children seminar, this is just one small example of something working after an intentional time of reflecting on our parenting, and boy am I thankful for it!
It reminded me of how much we need to be intentional in our parenting. Taking time to be trained in skills by people who know what they’re on about and who care enough to teach you in a manner you can learn from. Thank you Colleen!
* please note: Adventure Girl doesn’t have developmental delays / special needs. This post is from that view point and I apologise for any unintended offence caused to parents of those with special needs. I do understand that those with special needs have… special needs and as such, tantrums/regulation activities etc are much, much harder to deal with. No judgement to these parents at all – quite the opposite in fact: deep respect and admiration.