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Childwise is kicking my butt

21 months, Obiwan
47 months, Nessness

I’ve been told it’s the Terrible Twos, Threenager, F’in Fours and Fearsome Fives. Then things are fun and lovely until the Tumultuous Teens. Well, I’d like to mitigate the f’in fearsomeness as much as can be reasonably expected. Because, if it’s possible, then why not?

I’ve found the Babywise and Toddlerwise series to be quite helpful with the principles they provide to guide parenting decisions and practices. Ms PR foresaw what I might appreciate next and sent me Childwise (THANK YOU!), to assist in parenting three to seven year olds. Well, Hubs and I started reading the book together. We got through the Introduction and reached the list of 15 Childwise principles before feeling a little kicked in the butt. Some of the principles we’re already working on from the earlier books in the series, but some principles really highlight where things aren’t going well right now. We have work to do.

Here’s the 15 Childwise Principles:

  1. Great marriages make great parents – YES. This is difficult in the early “in the trenches” years but I believe it’s so important to be intentional about maintaining connectedness and carving time for each other, above what might be nice for the kids to have. Kids will leave you one day, your spouse shouldn’t.
  2. Use the strength of your leadership early on, and the strength of your relationship later – This opened my eyes a bit….leadership now, relationship later. I’m sure it doesn’t mean that relationship formation isn’t important through ALL the years, but perhaps that leadership from parents now is foundational to having a good relationship later.
  3. Parent now, be friends later – similar to above. And I totally agree, my children will have friends at school, etc, I need to be a parent. My worry is how to be a parent they’ll want to be friends with later.
  4. Instill morality into a child and his behavior will fall into place – This is something I’ve been trying to keep at the back of my mind for a while….related to building character and not conforming behavior.
  5. What you do not yourself desire, do not put before others. Do to others what you would have them do to you – The Silver and Golden Rule. Easy to forget.
  6. Other people count – Yes, we’ve been working on this since they’ve been able to reach for our stuff.
  7. It is not enough to teach your children how to act morally, they must learn how to think morally – And my question is HOW to teach them to think morally?
  8. When teaching virtue, a positive example is better than a thousand lectures – I’ve been terrible with this. My impatience. My curt responses. And Nessness is copying my tone and attitude. SIGHHHHHH.
  9. Discipline is heart food for your child – I hope so
  10. If learning didn’t take place, correction didn’t happen – OMIGOODNESS….have I taught her nothing then?
  11. Allowing a child to progress into his new and expanding world in an orderly fashion greatly enhances learning and decreases the need for correction – I know there are different opinions about this…but this makes sense for me.
  12. Constantly reminding a child to do what is expeced only means you have no expectation – GAAHHHHH. But I thought I had expectations! It must be coming out all wrong.
  13. Verbal affirmation is never redundant – Definitely need to work on this too.
  14. Wise parenting is better than power parenting – Oh I’ve been power parenting for sure and can’t wait to learn how to be wise instead.
  15. An ounce of self-control is better than a pound of trouble – Not exactly sure what this means but self-control is a fabulous thing in this world of self-absorption and self-centeredness.
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Words I Parent By

Don’t start a habit you’ll need to break later.
Start the way you mean to go.

The principle came from BabyWise which I found totally made sense. If I want my kids to sit through a meal at age 6, then I expect them to sit through a meal at age 3 and likewise at age 1…at restaurants and at home. If pulling things off someone else’s bookshelf or coffee table isn’t okay, then it’s not okay at home either. If taking my keys or phone without permission isn’t okay at age 16, then it’s not okay at age 2. It’s unfair to a child to not set rules or expectations at home but then impose them when they’re in a different environment or age. It boils down to being consistent.

Credit Card Parenting: Either you pay your dues now, or you pay it later, but plus interest.
Win the early battles.

Raising little humans is hard. That’s an understatement. There were so many things I wanted to just let go because dealing with tantrums is just not my idea of a good time. But I kept telling myself, if I don’t deal with this now, and correct or modify the attitude/behavior, then it’s just MUCH harder later when they’re a few more years set in their ways. And lippy. And heavier.

Mean what you say, say what you mean.

I saw this quote on a poster in church once. Words mean a lot to me so this stuck with me since as a mantra to live by. It’s particularly impactful when talking to little kids because their brains are making incredible connections that sounds can make words and words mean something and now they can communicate. The few words they have is so important to them. They also take what I say at face value. Do I want to teach them that my words are not to be taken seriously? No. So if I say, “Finish your fruit or we’re not going to the library” then I must mean what I say. This requires really thinking about what threats I can follow through on. Little kids also don’t have concept of “later” so the consequences must be fairly immediate. I’m also trying to be careful about saying exactly what I mean. “Touching public toilets and then touching your face is really gross” as opposed to “You’re so gross.” See the difference? I still say the wrong things but am trying to live by this because I want my kids to believe my words, to take what I say seriously, and to not have to guess at the meaning. I also don’t want my words to wound them. One day, soon, I hope they will be people whose words are true and meaningful as well.

Make parenting decisions centered around your End Goal.

This is a harder one to do. Without an End Goal in mind, it’s easy to just react to whatever situation/crisis/episode my kids unleash on me. My reaction could just be to get them quiet and make it through grocery shopping/church/car ride. But what does that teach them? I can get what I want by making a scene. Mere behavior modification isn’t enough either. Kids are smart and can put on a convincing performance to get their way too. In reading Sacred Parenting (not done yet), I’m challenged to raise kids with good , Christ-like character. Character and behavior are two different things. Character includes attributes like patient, kind, honest, brave, integrity, endures, faithful, etc. This is much harder for me. But that’s my End Goal, so it gives a frame of mind for me to check if my response to my kids will be helpful in moving them towards the End Goal. It helps me make decisions about what to do or not do. This has been a three steps forward, two steps back kind of progress.

What are some words you parent by?

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Learn it. Do it right. Do it faster.

I’m an INTJ. Competency and efficiency are KPI’s for everything in my life. Did I do it the best way possible given the circumstances and resources available? And can I do it better and/or faster next time?

I’ve brought those concepts into teaching Nessness (2.75 yrs old) life skills…like how to feed herself (with spoon, fork or chopsticks). How to clean up her dropped/spilled food. How to clean up her toys and books. How to put on her boots/runners and take them off. How to floss and brush her teeth. How to go potty by herself (the wiping is sketch but she can do it.) How to sort clean cutlery from the dishwasher. She’s mostly at the “do it right and faster” stage.

The next learning items we’re working in the “learn it, do it right” stages on are dressing/undressing herself, dustbusting around the house, wiping her table, putting dirty clothes in hamper and making her bed.

Sometimes, okay most times, it’d be a lot faster if I just did it, but that robs her the opportunity to get hands on learning and to build confidence when she does it. That said, I need to work on not getting frustrated with her when she decides to get silly and totally not do it properly. I tell myself she’s not even three. But I’ve seen when she does it really well so I know she’s capable. And so I push.

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Terrible Twos

31 months, Ness Ness

It’s real: Terrible Twos

They have big BIG emotions and not-yet-developed emo-muscles to deal. And have a short fuse. And become OCD over weird things. They try to exert their sovereignty over everything…pushing and testing parental boundaries/resolve.

My goal though this phase is to not lose ground from what good habits we’ve built in the first two years of her life. This includes:

  • Healthy meals and eating whatever is served. She’s pickier now but she MUST at least try something a couple times before saying she doesn’t want anymore. She can’t get any seconds of what she does like until she finishes her vegetables.
  • No snacking except at snack time or rare treat
  • Cleaning up after herself. If she can pull it off a shelf or throw something on the ground, she can pick it up and put it back. We’re working on her cleaning up without needing me to stand there watching her slowly do it.
  • Daily nap time. There was a period where she wasn’t napping so I made her stay on her bed to “rest”. We just call nap time “rest time” now but thankfully she’s returned to napping. Phew! Without that nap she gets whiny and dramatic at dinner.
  • Reasonable bed time. It’s supposed to be 8:30pm….but lately with the napping, she might not fall asleep until 9, 9:30pm. At least she stays in bed and is relatively quiet.
  • Obedience to Mommy and Daddy….75% of the time? I’m expecting more obedience as she gets older and understands more. I asked her if sometimes she just doesn’t want to obey and she said “yeah”. I told her I understand but some things require obedience for her safety. She said “okay”…though I don’t know how much she understood.

Needless to say, it’s hard to just hang onto what we’ve established. There’s a lot of “Do this or else…” in the house. I’m mindful that whatever I threaten I must be able to carry through. So if it’s “or else we’re not going out“, then we really aren’t going to go out. If it’s “or else I’m going to throw/give the toy that you won’t clean up away“, then I really do it. Sometimes I’ll put the toy away for a couple weeks before quietly slipping it back into her toy box. Always trying to find the motivator. Sometimes it’s a toy or activity. Sometimes is me. “Finish your dinner or Mommy isn’t going to sit with you anymore, it’s dish washing time.”

With all the testing however, she’s also becoming more independent. “Nessness can do it!!” and shoves Mommy/Daddy out of the way. And she’s surprising us with what she can do! Flossing for example. She actually enjoys it! Hopefully that means no cavities in the future. She also likes to help Mommy/Daddy bring things up or downstairs. Particularly if it’s not her things. The extra pair of hands developing for help around the house is nice!! I need to cultivate this further while she thinks it’s fun. 😉

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Diaper free (almost)

22-26 months

Am a little late with this but yes, we are diaper free (almost) during the day!

It started when grandma bought some training underwear for her and she was so pleased to wear them. We told her, “Wow Nessness! When you’re a big girl and don’t need diapers, you can wear big girl underwear!”

We’d let her wear it until she wet herself and she’d say, “sup sup”, which means “wet”. This way she’d start to associate the feeling of wet with pee and unpleasant. We’d tell her, “That’s pee and you’re wet. You want to stay clean and dry so you have to pee on the toilet. You need to tell us if you need to pee so you can stay clean and dry.”

Sometimes we’ll put her on the toilet and she’ll pee to which we praise that she peed in the toilet so her underwear is clean and dry. (Clean and dry is the focus of the praise and her goal.) we then started figuring out she can hold for about 1.5-2hrs. So instead of waiting for her to tell us she needs to go, because often she’d rather play until it’s too late, we just watch the clock and say it’s time to pee. Then praise her for staying dry.

From there it was working on getting her to tell us if she feels the urge. For a while she would only tell us she didn’t need to pee but then wet herself a little before telling us. Now at 26 months she’s communicating her urge. Yay! She’s still diapered at nap time & overnight. Interestingly, her diaper is dry after her nap but if she wears panties to nap then she’ll wet them after a nap. Go figure. Here’s hoping by 30 months she’ll be completely out of diapers.

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Doors

18.75 months old

She can open doors!
Doesn’t help we have the bar handles so it’s really easy once within reach. How to door train so that she learns when it’s okay to open a door and when it’s not okay? Ms PR told me once that the only thing keeping a door closed should be the sound of your voice. Otherwise a door contraption or lock will only modify behavior but not their will to obey the parent. Good point. But how to do it? Suggestions anyone?