"Rekindle love Alethea Shiplett's way..."It goes on to talk about the book. What struck me was that they spoke about a way of loving - my way of loving.
At first I went, "Awwww! How special and poignant and insightful of them!"
Then I went, "Hey! The way in the book that I talk about is not something I made up myself! People will think those were my ideas and techniques!"
And now I'm like, "Whoa! I need to blog about this because it lies at the heart of what I'm hearing from parents."
So often, parents who are challenged with their child's behavior problems, temper tantrums, stubbornness, willfulness, etc., will latch on to what I like to call "quick fixes". These are approaches which for all intents and purposes DO work immediately and enable families to move forward with living, dinnertime, running errands and all of the things that parents and families have to do.
"I count to three".
"Then what happens?" I ask.
"There's a consequence," is the most common answer.
"What is the consequence?" I ask.
"Well, I take something away or remove a privilege. Something like that," is the reply.
"How is the consequence related to the misbehavior you are trying to correct?"
"He knows he loses something if he doesn't....."
And so on. Invariably, the consequence is completely unrelated to the behavior or the setting, and is truly nothing more than a power play on the part of the adult. The question that is never asked is: What are you teaching the child.? How does arbitrarily taking something away help the child to become a self-directing, self-controlled adult?
Is your lesson that they should be obedient to authority out of fear of punishment? That is certainly a motivator to do what is right or desirable. But do you really want obedience based on fear or loss? Fear is the most detrimental emotional state to normal, healthy development. Fear must be utilized very carefully, and only, in my opinion, where it is truly warranted - for safety precautions. Even then, a healthy fear is really just a mindful caution of real consequences to one's actions. An unhealthy fear is not based on reality - what can really happen. From this kind of irrational fear stems anxiety, worry, timidity and can lead to neurosis, panic attacks, anxiety attacks, health problems and other imbalances in the body's systems.
And what does obedience based on the threat of loss teach the child? That the child will loose something or be inconvenienced or her privileges curtailed if she does not obey. Curtailing privileges can certainly be connected to issues of trust. If the child is making poor or risky choices, then they cannot be trusted. Consequently, their freedoms must be curtailed until trustworthiness is exhibited. For example, a mother wants her children to walk from the home to the car and get into their car seats. Lately, the children have been climbing into the back seat or the driver's seat and playing with objects, switches, buttons and the like.
Perhaps the mother can review the sequence of steps before leaving the house. Then the mother may need to walk with the children, holding their hands until they get to the car in order to guide their bodies to their car seats. In other words, she should allow as much freedom as the children can own responsibility for. She could also give the children a choice before leaving the home. They can play in the yard for 5 or 10 minutes before climbing into their car seats or they can go straight to their car seats. Whatever approach she takes, the focus is on gaining their cooperation in the process, rather than coercing their behavior with threats of loss.
This raises the possibility of obedience based on love and cooperation. I need such and such to happen. My needs interrupt your activity and require that you get in the car and go with me. What can we do to make this transition amenable for everyone? Is there a favorite song or toy that can go with you to the car? Who will carry Mommy's purse and who will carry Mommy's keys? This is a conversation that can happen before leaving the house. All this is just a process of making a smooth transition and gaining the child's interest and cooperation in the process.
So is there a "my way" to love? To rekindle love? I'd say "no". But only through thoughtful listening to the needs and wants of others, of open and safe communication, of experimentation with different choices to see which ones work best for everybody, and with the ability to address special needs and interests when they arise, can we work together to do what needs to be done.
Remember - shift your perspective from "How do I get them to do ________?" to "We're all in this together!"