Being a parent is difficult, really difficult. We have moments of wonder and awe and many moments of multi-tasking, driving, cleaning up a mess, cooking, breaking up fights, tending to cuts, helping with homework, finding solutions to struggles, and so much more. It’s very easy to wish the day and years away to when you can finish your cup of coffee and maybe even sleep in!
As a mom of four, it is my personal quest and self-journey to look for ways to be more positive. That is, how to avoid being sucked into the tornado of negativity, which is easy to do, especially with parenting. This is more than looking at the bright side, it’s about truly transforming to a more positive lifestyle and parenting interactions. With the knowledge that your babies grow up, I really want to focus on finding those joyous moments multiple times each day, especially on those difficult days. Like I’ve heard from the beginning of my motherhood journey, “The days are long, but the years are short.” I am trying to be in the moment and cherish the daily tasks, daily laughs, and daily frustrations.
This has led me to the book, Say What You See for Parents and Teachers written by Sandra R. Blackard (2005). Using “The Language of Listening Heart Model” is what she defines as the approach that is based 3 components:
1. “Say What You See” to connect to your child
2. Add a Strength when you observe a behavior you like and want to increase it.
3. Add a “Can Do” when you observe a behavior you do not like and wanted decreased, and offer an acceptable alternative.
For example, imagine you walk into your family room and see you child jumping on your couch. You can state what you see: “I see you like to bounce. Couches are for sitting.”
Add a strength: “You’re a strong jumper and you have a lot of energy.”
Add a Can Do: ”Why don’t we go to the trampoline and jump together?”
The flip side happens all too easily and quickly – we walk into the family room and see our child jumping on the couch and immediately shout, “Hey, get down off the couch now! If you don’t get off the couch, I’m going to away your IPAD.” By using this approach, you are minimizing the negative interaction and instead acknowledging what your child wants or needs. You are giving them a way to accomplish their goal of jumping while sticking to your goal of not damaging the couch!
Using Blackard’s approach, you are using a positive way of teaching limits and acknowledging your child. When you do this, reflect… how did you feel? Did you feel the negative tornado approaching or did you feel the interaction was positive for both you and your child? Using mindfulness is a great way to center yourself in the current moment. Remember that in this journey you will of course hit some potholes, but acknowledge that and keep moving forward with your journey. I use this philosophy and model for my kids on how to connect but also how to repair when you hit those roadblocks or get a moment of lapse where the tornado comes. Teaching yourself and your child all these lessons are so valuable for your family and your everyday life.
Now, I am off to practice this myself how to make my sons’ obsessive playing in Fortnight a positive interaction for us … Ha!