The Connected Child, Chapter 5

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I haven't blogged specifically about this book study yet, but I've been doing an online book study (check it out on the right side of my page). All of The Connected Child is just amazing, and every single person who has adopted, fostered, or parented a child from a hard place in any way should be required to read it. In my opinion.

This particular chapter could not have come at a more opportune time for me. It's about teaching life values to your children. This is precisely what we are struggling with with all of our children right now, and I unfortunately know exactly why. We're not modeling the values we want our children to learn. At least not consistently and well enough. If I want my eldest to respect me, then I have to first show him respect! (Boy, do I have a long way to go on this one. I am definitely reaping what I've sown when it comes to my son's attitude towards his parents. I don't want to say I was a know-it-all, but goodness. I swear that some of my son's words towards me are ripped exactly from the script of my conversations with my mother at age 10.) If I want my kids to listen and obey, to accept consequences, and to focus and complete their tasks, then I need to model gentleness, firmness, and focus to them first.

A couple of things that I'm going to specifically try with Mr. B right now are practicing obedience and praising him for accepting no. These are things that he is struggling with greatly right now (well, he's 3!). For practicing obedience, Karyn Purvis suggests simple games like Simon Says and Stop & Go.
"You should not have to scream or yell to gain your child's cooperation; instead you should calmly remind her to "listen and obey". Once your child cooperates, praise her and remind her of what she did well."

We already do this to a certain extent. We have really worked hard at praising obedience specifically, but it's the escalation into yelling that I'm struggling with right now. My voice just gets louder and louder and louder until I'm yelling at everyone. I earnestly desire to change this dynamic in our family. Thus my action step for this week comes straight from Karyn:
"Before speaking to your child or giving instructions, stop what you are doing and move to within three feet of the little one - then, say what you need to. Don't lob words at him or her across the room while you're rushing about. You won't build deep interpersonal connections from a distance, or while hurtling around like a runaway train."

I want to enlarge this to make sure that I'm no longer yelling instructions from another room, up the stairs, etc. While we are a loud family, and that will not change, loud does not need to equal chaos.

I feel like this entire chapter of life values, which include respect, accepting no, consequences, making eye contact, who's the boss, and listening and obeying, are all about raising children are well-regulated, well-adjusted, peaceful children. We desperately need our home to become more peaceful. When we began parenting traumatized children, I definitely underestimated how much extra work it would be to have peace in our home. We have to be purposeful in creating peace: in our relationships - the emotional space of our home, in the physical space of our home, and through the spiritual space of our home. One thing that is being made abundantly clear to me is that when one of these areas is out of balance, the others suffer as well. I'm learning a lot about peace in the throes of parenting my hurt three-year-old - he needs me to make peace for him, he needs me to teach him how to make it for himself, and he needs to live in a peaceful space.

I came away from this chapter with a song on my heart, one that I put on a playlist of 'blessings' for Mr. B and Baby R. A life in order brings us peace. Here's the first part of it - my prayer today...

Your voice has stilled the raging storms
The wind and waves bow down before
Your still small voice brings hope to all
Who wait on You, we'll wait for You
To lead us to the place where You'll restore our souls
And all our earthly strivings come to cease

Take from our souls the strain and stress
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Your peace
The beauty of Your peace

from the Beauty of Your Peace by Tim Hughes
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