Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Positivity: Progress, not Perfect


That has echoed through our mansion delightfully cozy house more than a baker's dozen each week. It's an artifact of our family's new system:


I was introduced to the "movement"...PAUSE--does anyone else's mind flash words like "bowels" and "colon" when you hear that word? It's like the word "moist." My hands get clamy and I feel discomfort like a nagging tag in my too small H&M boy brief undies. *shudder*

I was introduced to the "movement" last year when my mother and friend attended a Positive Discipline talk at Miles's old school in my stead while I was on bedrest. And then again when the instructor came to Felix's school to give the parents a lecture on the principles. Felix's childcare Director spent the summer being trained on becoming a facilitator as well.

So, like any good parent does, I purchased/borrowed any and every book I could on the darn thing. Call me Jane Nelson! News flash: my kids can be a handful. And by kids, I'm excluding Gus. He's pretty darn easy. And his current coping mechanism for the chaos is to revert back to a former stage when he was immersed in water. He is, I am convinced, part dolphin. Or maybe trying out for the part of Madison in the stage version of Splash-the musical (please, someone produce this?)

Miles and Felix, independently, are awesome. Motivated, kind, and generally manageable. But you put them in the same zip code, and it's TOXIC. It's like herding deaf cats. Bedtime with Felix is, apologies for the reference, a pure $hit show. Getting Miles to focus in the morning to get himself ready and NOT try to teach Gus to roll over or sing him some made up song is the most painstakingly slow process. Especially with a deadline of 7:30am. Put the two in a room together with toy cars, and I just hold my breath and place bets on who is coming to me first in tears tattling on the other for [insert 1 of 3 things: throwing toys, taking the other's toys, saying something the other one doesn't believe]. That last one drives me NUTS! "MOOOOOM! Felix says that I was the line leader for 1 day, but I am the line leader for a week!" "MOOOOM! Miles says I can't play with cars because I'm three." My standard response of "Well, do you believe him? If not, don't worry about it." Is getting stale and doesn't work. And that's when toys start to get thrown, stolen...and eventually I put them on LAYAWAY on the counter.

At night, we do "math races" as I bathe Gus and Eric does dishes. We give math questions, and the answer is the # of laps they run around the house. Brilliant, no? Except it amps them up to the point that Felix is dive bombing off of structures, and Miles is getting so silly, that next thing you know, Eric is running around looking like he is herding NAKED deaf cats. Many times, I come in as reinforcements and Gus hangs out on the floor or in the cosleeper dolphin clicking what is sure to be SOS to the closest foster agency.

Since early 2013, my patience has eroded. There is a little Cinderella complex happening in the house. When the clock strikes 6pm, Cinderella turns into a hormonal, short tempered ogre who has been known to say things like, "if you don't like the way Mommy and Daddy are doing it, maybe you should go find another Mommy or Daddy." Or, "I'M DONE WITH YOU TWO! If you don't settle down, I'm not cuddling with you before bed."

Who takes away cuddles? A prematurely graying ogre, that's who...

So at this point, you could tell me bribing with yogurt covered raisins to get the kids to brush their teeth works and I'd do it! Oh. Wait. I do do that.

So this PD stuff. Yeah. This post is not a tutorial about PD as I am still learning myself. It's about acknowledging that it's our family's new guiding strategy for more order and peace in the house. It's not perfectly intuitive, but it certainly makes sense. You can't expect kids to DO good when they don't FEEL good. So bribes, time outs, etc, may work short term, but long term it's about empowerment and not power. Giving limited choices. More hugs (we actually do quite a lot of them), and age appropriate discipline. It's taking away more punitive measures and trying to guide children to become their own problem solvers.

So far, we've seen some progress. And that's the goal: progress, not perfect.

One of the hallmarks of the movement for us is Family Meetings. Every Sunday night for the past few weeks, we have convened a Family Meeting. We usually start with Miles playing the triangle and him announcing "FAMILY MEETING TIME!" Then we start with everyone saying something nice about everyone else. Then we review our current challenges, and then go over the week ahead and try to plan something special. Felix is a little too young to really "get it" but Miles eats it up. It's totally fun, and we post the "minutes" in our eating area and review the previous week's as well.

As a family, we are starting to tackle what it means to be a fully functioning unit. We all need to join forces to get ourselves seamlessly operational. It takes time, effort, patience...

...and maybe a little ice cream.


  1. do we want to know what "bath explosions" are relating to Dad?! j/k love this.

  2. i love this too. We have definitely started facing some of these challenges. Boys can be so wired! We are dealing with this currently... K is in his room for "quiet time" and I know he's tired because pre-school exhausted him, but instead of chilling out, he wants to wake up his sister. Awesome.
    I started the car coin system, which I wrote about recently, due to some of these same issues!! I'd love to try out family meetings. Great idea.

  3. Awesome. Do you remember DH's family stuff? Not for young kids, but they had to have their schedule for the week ready on Sunday night. Maybe they had a family meeting about it and I forget how chores were involved, but love the idea of a weekly reset.

  4. I am way behind on blogs and am just reading this. LOVE it! I can't imagine what it is like to have more than two people in the house. I have to admit I am a little jealous.