Friday, February 13, 2009

Setting The Boy Up

In my post on Discipline in Attachment Parenting, I wrote that I take some extra time to set The Boy up for success. I thought I would share a bit more on what we did and didn't do in order to help him along. 
  • First off, like Erin, we did not completely childproof our home. I moved the things that could injure The Boy or that I did not want to see broken.  We did not cover the electronics or move them up, move the games or video consoles, etc. I did, however, stick those plastic plugs in the outlets. Electricity is no joke. In the kitchen, the cabinets on his level that contain glass or chemicals are childproofed. Same with the bathroom. 
  • In each room, The Boy has a drawer or cabinet that is "his" or contains things that he can explore. In the kitchen, he retrieves his own bowl for snacks out of a drawer. In the bathroom, he knows which drawers he can and cannot open, and which one has the items he can play with (bottom drawer in both rooms). 
  • I try to take him to the park often, so he has ample climbing opportunities.
  • When weather permits, I leave the back door open, so he has ample opportunity to explore outdoors (I can see from the kitchen or go out with him) and burn off energy.
  • We have kids furniture in the house now, but before he had his own table and chairs, he had a small chair that matched our couch, and we'd leave activities on the coffee table for him. I still do this a lot, because his "playroom" is still a work in progress.
  • We try very hard to be home at nap time and bedtime. I do not believe his entire day needs to be structured from wake-up to bedtime, but I do believe in the consistency of naps and bedtime. That being said, I am not so rigid that BAM, it's 7. Bedtime. There are days/nights when his sleep time needs to be adjusted slightly for his own tiredness or lack there of. I'm not always tired at the same time, nor is he, and I respect his body's function as much as my own.
  • I schedule activities at times I know he is consistently in a good mood. For example, his pictures in January. I know at 9am, he is awake, happy, fed and in a good mood, so that is when we scheduled his photos to be taken. 
  • I watch for my son's cues that he is hungry, thirsty or sleepy, and then I respond to those cues. Sometimes he has to be put off (i.e. driving and we've run out of water, etc) for a few minutes, but overall, I try to respond in a timely fashion.
  • Be prepared! This means I keep a snack, drink, and diaper with me each time we leave the house. I also am prepared by planning so we aren't out during a sleepy time!
  • I give The Boy attention when we are together. I might not want to color or finger paint or read the same book a million times, but if I give him attention, he does not need to act out to get attention. Seems simple enough to say, but not always easy to do!
  • I involve my son in my day. This is another easy to say, harder to do activity. I know I can do the laundry more quickly, make perfect cookies and do a multitude of tasks more thoroughly without The Boy helping me, but I find that involving him makes both of us happy! Most of the time, he helps happily. Every once in a while he'd rather color, and as long as he's helped me in other ways, I am happy to let him do so. This might sound harsh, as though he has assigned chores, but he does not. I look for ways for him to help around the house so he knows he needs to and should contribute.
  • We started young with helping him learn the things we expect from him. For example, from the time he was able to walk basically, he has been helping clean up his toys. At that age, he might have put two in the basket while I did the rest, but he was expected to help. 
  • I don't ask him to do something that needs to be done. In our house, if I ask The Boy a yes or no question or ask him to do something, it leaves it open for him to say no, so if I need him to do something now, I don't ask. I tell him. Instead of "Do you want to lie down on the carpet and get your pjs on?" I say, "Lie down on the carpet." (not exactly how it goes, but you get the drift)
  • I communicate on The Boy's level. Yes, that means I get down on my knees, use his name, and look him in the eye when speaking.
  • I use simple sentences appropriate for his age level.
  • I acknowledge him when I am speaking to others. If he asks for my name, I will make eye contact. If he is persistent while I am in the middle of talking, I will ask him to wait a minute. At the same time, he is two, and a minute is a description of time that he does not yet comprehend. We are still working on interruption, and I have started giving him a gentle squeeze (like you might do to your neighbor if you're holding hands for a prayer) to let him know that I hear him and will talk to him as soon as I am done with my current discussion.
  •  I count. I once read (and now can't find the citation) that little people move at half the pace as adults do, so if he is walking at his normal pace, but I am being impatient, I tend to get frustrated. To stop this, I count to ten in my head. If he is still not making progress, then there is a problem. Usually by six or seven he is doing what I needed him to do.
I am sure I do plenty of additional things, but I wanted to share some that I do. Dr. Sears' list was quite influential. What do you do to set your child up for success? 


~ A Moxie Mom said...

This is all great advice. We are similar with our kids. Another thing that we have implemented is trying to meet their needs as a female/male. The book "love and respect" has been great for providing that information (This is a bbok that was written for adult relationships - marriage). It's amazing how he perks up just by us presenting a situation a little differently in a way that shows him respect. He will quickly step up to any challenge, request, and choose to obey. We don't often "ask" him to obey but nor do we sternly command. We have found that our tone and our respectful delivery can make all the difference. And with our daughter, she responds more to tenderness. During a moment of punishment I took the time to explain the "why" of all my requests/demands and let her know that it all boiled down to my love for her. Now she chooses to obey and although she doesn't always like the correction, she does appreciate it because she knows that she is loved.

Maria said...

I forgot to write that we use please and say thank you. Modeling good manners is important to me. :)

Erin said...

Great ways to prepare for success, Maria!

Dawn said...

These are great. We do pretty much the same thing.

Camryn is great with saying Thank You. We are working on Please now. :)

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