Wednesday, November 11, 2009

PD Tool Card: Connection Before Correction

(Originally posted at Rational Jenn)

I participated in the Positive Discipline chat the other night and it was very interesting. I had a little bit of a revelation during the chat, and the result is my choosing this week's tool card. Epiphanies are Good Things, for they point the way to changes for the better.

As I was reading some of the questions and discussion, it occurred to me that I'm pretty good at figuring out how to handle issues with the kids. But I'm not so good at doing so in a kind way. :o( I get impatient and irritated and my tone of voice is not always what I would like it to be. Ideally, in discipline situations where some kind of limit needs to be set or enforced, I would be able to do so in a firm, yet respectful way.

Firm And Respectful (aka "Firm and Kind" in PD circles)

  • "No, billiard balls are not for throwing. Would you like to throw soft ball instead? I know you're sad about it."
  • "Wow, I feel really angry when just said that rude thing to me. That doesn't really make me want to help you at all. Can you think of a kinder way to ask me that?"
  • "Do you see me writing at my computer right now? I'm working, so if you want to interrupt me, please put your hand on my knee to get my attention and wait quietly."

Not So Firm And Respectful

  • "AAAAHH! Don't throw that ball!!!" (in a spaz tone)
  • "NO." (in a rude tone)
  • "I said 'Please wait!!!!!' " (in an impatient tone)

These are just silly (although based on real-life event) examples, but I know that this is a problem for me. Part of the reason is that I never learned how to express anger or frustration appropriately. Instead I suck it up and hold it inside, and then what happens is BOOM! I explode. I believe this stems in part from not feeling free to express the so-called negative emotions (anger, sadness, etc.) as a kid.

I am getting better at this though. I'm able to say to them "Wow, I'm feeling pretty mad about that!" in a tone that is filled with strong emotion--without extra volume and crazy eye laser beams gesturing. That's what I'm going for--strong emotion, normal volume. :o) But I don't do this all the time. Sometimes I forget that they're new here. I forget to keep The Ambassador Analogy in mind.

I would like my children to learn how to express anger and frustration in appropriate ways. I would like them to know how to speak kindly to the people they love best, even when expressing those emotions. And I know the primary way they can learn this is by copying the way Brendan and I do those things. Mostly me, since I'm around them the most (and Brendan is super calm at all times, so this isn't an issue for him at all).

So this week (and hopefully going forward into infinity), I'm cultivating KINDNESS. I'm reminding myself many times a day to be mindful of HOW I'm speaking to the kids, particularly when we're having some kind of conflict. I'm paying attention to my triggers (when I'm focused on a task I'm trying to finish, when I'm trying to get things ready by a certain time, when I'm tired). I'm going to try to speak to them in a way that lets the "message of love" (on the card above) get through. Instead of the "message of grouchy old mommy." :S

And I've asked the older kids for their help (thank you, Kelly, for the suggestion). I told them that I know I fuss at them too hard sometimes and it makes me sad when I do that. So I asked them to tell me when I'm not speaking kindly, because that's a way for me to know I'm doing it, and to take another chance to do it better. I know Ryan will take this responsibility VERY seriously. Morgan seemed a bit confused by the request, but then again, she was really hard to talk to this morning (some mornings, she's just off in Morgan-land, and it's best if you want until she returns to broach important subjects).

So, we'll just see how this goes, huh? :o)

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