A first-time mom to a wee preemie, I was scared. Hovering. Defending. That was a great skill for the nearly 4 months he was in hospital, but he did come home. Then I got confused. I was just as vigilant. Historically, I was not “a kid person” — small family, not a babysitter, and for some years sported a lapel pin that said “non-breeder” haha.
Then he came. The best surprise, my biggest challenge. I turned to my elders with minute-to-minute questions.
“You’ve got to be tough on him to make him a man; slap his hand; bite him back; don’t give in or he’ll be a brat.”
Their answers pained me. I’m a lover not a fighter, and could not work up that opposition to my wee fledgling. Between helicoptering and slapping, there is an ocean…
Imagine parents holding little kids at the ocean. That kid is hearing the roar, feeling the water, freezing their toes, getting pushed by the waves, wide eyed and squealing. That parent is watching, excited, proud, and ready to sling that kid to the hip when they reach up. That seems about right to me.
Alissa Marquess’s recent blog post over on Creative With Kids about folks saying we need to be tougher on kids, Is This What Causes So Many Kids To Be Brats?, led me to understand that not wanting to raise a brat is really based in anger, animosity and an imagined future. And opposition.
“Once we start name calling by thinking of our child as a brat we’ve stepped away from our role as a leader and instead we’re parenting based on fear. “
I believe that we don’t need to be in opposition to our kids, we don’t have to see them as little enemies… though that witching hour right before bedtime is a real test! Fear and opposition take the fun out of parenting. Rules can put some of that fun back. Yep, rules.
List the top three family squabbles. Make one rule about each. Write that down, done. The only thing left to do is point to the written rule! Well, it’s not that easy, I know. But I’m finding that talking about the problem with my elementary kids and offering them two or three possibilities for The Rule (one very very strict) usually gets us on the same page. So if they agree to it, the rule can’t be disputed later. Consistency is key, and they’ll stop questioning the rules if you don’t back down three or four times in a row. Don’t crack! Don’t even let them see you THINK about cracking! Haha, give it a try and come share your success over on Facebook.