Peaceful Parenting...What Is It and How Does It Work?
I would like to think I am a bad Mama-Jama when it comes to parenting. Don't get me wrong, there are days when I feel like a complete and utter failure, but overall I feel pretty good about my ability to raise these little humans. With that being said, this year has been pretty difficult for Mr. Feef's and me. We have been home together since May 2016. It has been a long and challenging 8 months. Mr. Feef's is an incredibly intelligent and social five year old. It was great at first. Unfortunately, over time I grew more tired and he was getting bored. I no longer could keep up with him and he did not understand why. This was frustrating and he started acting out. My fuse grew short and the slightest disturbance turned into me raising my voice, multiple time outs throughout the day, and both of us on the verge of tears. "What was happening?!" I thought to myself. I would talk to The Husband but he wasn't here to witness the all-day-every-day "don't touch that" "put that away" "wash your hands" "flush the toilet" "Did you wash your hands?" "Get off of me, that hurts" and the list went on.
I was not enjoying my time with my son. I felt like a horrible Mama. I had friends who told me their daily stories and they sounded so similar. They could relate. So why didn't that make me feel better? Am I going to be overwhelmed and tired
f-o-r-e-v-e-r? Instead of finding a solution for the problem, I accepted my fate as this was the way it was going to be.
Fast forward to the present time. Little Miss is here and the good days far out weigh the bad. There are days where I still get overwhelmed. I still have nights where I am thrilled I can finally sit down with a glass of Cab and binge watch Orange is the New Black. By the way, this season was intense, if you have not seen it yet...get on it!
What changed? Did I find more patience, hire a nanny, or send the kids to daycare? The answer is No. I went to MommyCon and was introduced to Peaceful Parenting.
In one hour, everything was different. MY. LIFE. CHANGED.
I grew up in a strict yet supportive home. I was taught at an early age, do as you're told, when you're told. If you didn't listen you would be yelled at and possibly suffer other consequences. What I really learned was that I if I did not listen something bad was going to happen.These are all teachings that I have agreed with as a parent up until MommyCon. I, like most parents, want to instill respect and discipline. Kids today seem to have bigger attitudes and less consequences. I did not want to add to the chaos.
I went to MommyCon Austin 2017. It was A-MA-ZING If you haven't been. Please click on the link and find a city near you. It is for all Mama's in all seasons. There are phenomenal vendors, speakers, and products to see. I was like a kid in a candy store! #buyallthethings
I looked through the sessions and one caught my attention right away, "Peaceful Parenting 101" I immediately thought "yes, I need this!" I think this was God's way of telling me "Hey girl, you've been asking for help... here's your chance! Go get it"
Within the first 10 minutes of listening to Lisa Howe speak, I was on the verge of tears. She told a story that spoke to my heart. The moral of her story was, we need to take time out of our busy day to stop and connect with our children. We need to validate their feelings and let them know, we are here to help them understand and navigate the world around them. They have such BIG emotions and they have no idea what to do with them. It is our job to help them identify how they feel and what to do about it. One of the most valuable lessons I learned was that Mr. Feef's is acting exactly as he should for a 5 year old. He is inquisitive, argumentative, testing boundaries, talking about bodily functions and then laughing hysterically about it. It truly amazes me that he has memorized several species of reptiles, insects, and arachnids yet he cannot remember to flush and wash his hands after using the potty?!? So I remind him every.single.time. I do not like repeating myself in any situation. So saying the same thing all day is tiring. Guess what?! That is part of my job as his parent. To teach, and reteach until it sticks. Which I am almost positive he and I will still have some of these conversations at his highschool graduation, his wedding, and possibly when his kids are born! He is right on target, it is MY attitude that needed the adjustment not his. Say Whaaaat?! Yes. I have been the problem all along, not my argumentative child. Mind Blown!
Peaceful Parenting I am not going to lie, I had heard of people who practiced peaceful parenting and I immediately thought "So you let your kids run your house?" Not trying to judge, I just did not know how it worked. Lisa did a great job helping me understand and gave several useful tips in her workshop (I highly recommend you check it out after you're done here.)
These are my interpretations of Lisa's teachings.
What is peaceful parenting?
Regulating your own emotions. Understand that you must calm yourself first, then address the situation. I love the saying, we must meet their chaos with our calm <3
Connecting with your little one. Spending uninterrupted time with them. Positive physical contact. Being active and present! Get up and move your bodies! Dance parties our one of our favorites. Laughing can cure almost any ailment.
Expressing emotions. Help them identify and use words to express their emotions. They have many feelings and if they cannot express themselves with words, they will usually resort to physical expression. Let them know it is still okay to cry! In our house we would always say "dry it up," but why?! Why can't we cry? We have tears for a reason. I honestly believe this is God's way of giving us a natural way to release stress. I know after a good cry I often feel much better. Let's not deprive our children of that same relief because it makes us uncomfortable, annoys us, or is embarrassing. Instead, we can be their rock and build trust. With that, they learn that we will be here for them no matter what.
Rules and repetition. Rules and structure are still very important. Repetition is key. You will continuously have to explain the rules and your expectations. Having a routine can also help maintain a calm environment.
Understand their limits (and yours). They can only handle so many emotions on top of rules to follow. Take it one step at a time and walk them through the process. Try to exercise patience. This can be easier said than done, especially in the moment where everyone is frustrated. If you are hitting your limit, take a break. Take a minute, or two and revisit the conversation when you can be productive.
Give yourself a break. There will still be difficult days. There will be moments you act out of frustration. Take this time to teach them that we are all human and mistakes are inevitable. One phrase we use in our house is "Try again, when you mess up, you try again" That way Mr. Feef's knows, he messed up but there is an opportunity to do better next time.
Take care of yourself. If you are burning both ends of the candle, you are no help to anyone. Take 30 minutes a week for yourself! Whether it's reading a book, getting coffee, or sneaking a long hot shower. Take care of yourself Mama!
These are just some of the tips she shared with us. They had an immediate positive response for our family. She goes into great detail on her website: http://www.becomingpeaceful.com/
These are two of my personal stories where I used the Peaceful Parenting techniques with Mr. Feef's.
Splash pad We were at the splash pad in town and it was time to go. Mr. Feef's was bummed out but he changed into his dry clothes without any issues. On our way out of the park there was a large rock with water coming out of it. Mr. Feef's decided he wanted to climb it.
My old reaction: "No Sir, it's time to go. You already changed into dry clothes, I do not want you to get wet. Let's go!" I would have been annoyed because I wanted to go home. I would have been annoyed because he is wet. He isn't listening, so now there has to be a consequence. By the time we would have made it to the car, I would have been exhausted and he would have been trying to hide the tears.
Thought process I quickly assessed the situation for what it really was. Am I really that pressed for time? No. Is water going to hurt him, his clothes, or my car? No. So then what is the real issue? There isn't one.
My new reaction I allowed him to climb the rock. Then, he got stuck! I encouraged him to find a way down. He was so nervous but I stayed right there with him. We talked it through and he made it to the ground without getting hurt. He burst with excitement "Mom! I did it! I got down all by myself!" We high-fived and hugged! It was an awesome teachable moment that we would have missed out on had I went with my old reaction. It only took a total of 5 minutes and we were in the car and on our way. I felt completely calm the entire time and on our way home we jammed out to our playlist on Spotify! It was a perfect ending to a great day.
Bed time and video games Ethan was allowed to play Minecraft for a bit before bedtime. I am sure there are people out there with statistics on why kids shouldn't use computers and how video games are terrible. That's okay, this is our choice and we are fine with it :) So I let him know that it was bedtime. The tears began to form and I could tell this was not going to be an easy transition.
My old reaction "I said it's bedtime and what I say goes, now! If you're not going to listen and go to bed when I say, you wont be allowed to play video games." I honestly would not have cared if he finished his build. Which, makes me feel terrible. I know we have all been there, but how sad. I know if I was in the middle of something and someone just ordered me to quit, I'd have something to say about it too! So why is it okay for us to treat our littles this way? The answer, it's not.
Thought process He is crying because he was working on something and he was not finished. In his mind, this is the worst possible thing that could have happened. I tried to remember, even though it is insignificant to me, to him it's everything.
My new reaction "Hey buddy, I know you are working on a project. It is getting late and now it is your bedtime. So, why don't you pick, you can either stay up for 10 or 15 more minutes and wrap up your project. Then, tomorrow when you have computer time again, you can finish what you're doing." He looked at me and said "Okay! I'll work for 15 more minutes!" When the time was up, he went to bed without any arguing or back talk.
Treating them with respect, goes so much further than trying to be the big bad parent that shuts them down and enforces rules they still don't quite understand. So does this mean he gets to run our house? Absolutely not. We are learning how to respect each other. This is a two way street. We are using kinder words and softer tones. Does this mean I never yell? Nope! I still raise my voice, because just like my 5 year old, I forget. I make mistakes. The best part about that, is I get to teach him humility. I apologize sincerely and let him know, hey! Mama makes mistakes too. He thinks that is hilarious and it always lightens the mood. I am working on teaching him how to follow rules and why it is so important. I cannot expect him to "just listen" when his brain has never done this before. Even though we have talked about it 10 times today, I cannot expect him to master this new skill over night. I must have realistic expectations (this has really helped me). It takes time and repetition. Goodness, the repetition may kill me one day! However, it is completely worth it though. I know that one day, he will wake up, and it will just click.
Parenting is.so.hard. Peaceful Parenting has made it much easier!
We can allow our children to be children. In doing so, have seen a significant improvement in our relationship. It truly is more peaceful.
Thank you Lisa Howe!