In part one of this post, I talked about how we are making the switch from “consequence-based” parenting to “love-based” parenting. Now we all know, that’s semantics, right? I didn’t love my older two children any less than I love the younger three. It’s just a name. It was all love-based. But in our new system, tailor-made for traumatized children, we do not assign consequences; instead, we try to get to the heart of the behavior.
So when my “middle Little” puts a non-food item in her mouth for the 50th time that day, I can’t just put her in time out. I have to stop and think. “Why is she doing this? Is she hungry? Does she need to chew things? Or does she need babying?” I decide the latter, drop everything, and head to the rocker. She sits there a long time. A very l-o-n-g time. This is hard for me. I have 5 kids; I am always in the middle of something. I keep taking deep breaths. I remind myself that all that I do is for them, for her. I relax. I rock. I soak in her softness in my lap. I study her curls. I may even doze a minute. Eventually, she’s done. She hops of my lap and chases one of her brothers, and I resume my work.
Now I have to fight with my mind; it’s almost the exact opposite of everything we learn environmentally about parenting. I can hear my “mind-talk.” “What are you teaching her? You’re teaching her that every time she wants your attention, all she has to do is stuff an object in her mouth! You’re spoiling her!!”
Be honest, that’s what you were thinking, right?
I think it all the time. All…the…time.
It’s still counter-intuitive, often, for me. When our 4-year-old was mad at me recently, he used both hands to remove water from the toilet and toss it all over his room and his bed. So gross, right? I flipped out. In truth, it scared me, I just didn’t realize it at the time. I made all kinds of crazy threats. All very LOUD. Then I calmed down and cleaned up the mess and apologized. And for the first time in the whole incident, he cried. Poor baby. I felt awful. But that’s how it is sometimes. We’re not going to hit the mark every time. All we can do is clean up the mess and try again.
We’re still in the learning stages. More to come.