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Incredible Years (Part 2)

Imagine who you want your kids to become. Be that.

~Unknown

Ever since I became a stay-at-home mom, I have made it my job to gain the resources and support to become the best damn mom I can be. I just completed the 7th week of the Incredible Years course. With only 3 weeks left in the class, allow me to give you an update on the tools I have added to my parenting tool belt. In a previous post, Incredible Years (Part 1), I talk about intentionally playing with my kids.

So, besides playing, what have I been up to? Here are 4 key parenting strategies I have been working on:

  1. Praise, encouragement and positive attention – This comes fairly naturally to me (as long as I’m in a good mood). Because of the class, I am trying to work on praising and encouraging even more. This works on adults too my friends. My class instructor mentioned something that continues to resonate with me, “What gets you more positive behavior? Praise and encouragement. What get’s you more negative behavior? Lack of praise and encouragement.” We often fail to recognize our children when they play quietly or do things without complaining. Those things deserve A LOT of praise because we want them to keep up the good work. We cannot praise and encourage our children too much, so dish it out parents!
  2. Tangible rewards, incentives and celebrations – Prior to the class, the only time we tried out rewards was for potty training, and it was fairly successful. Now, I have implemented a rewards system for other behaviors and I am seeing even better results than before. When getting started, I tried to have this process be led by my kids. We went to the store and they got to pick out their favorite stickers and a small notebook to put them in. I involved them in the process of choosing which behaviors would be rewarded. We award a sticker for a few specific behaviors (i.e. staying in bed at night, obeying the first time, etc). Once they get really good at those behaviors, we phase them out and start rewarding new behaviors. During the first round of the rewards program, they did really well and I felt they deserved an extra reward. I told them how great they had been doing and said they could cash in all their stickers for a trip to the pool, yippee! Another incentive we added was a kindness jarkindness jar. When one of the boys is nice to the other or they are playing really well together without fighting, they get to add a cotton-ball to the kindness jar. When it fills up they get a trip to the zoo or a museum. Who doesn’t love receiving a favorite reward for a job well done?
  3. Limit setting – For some reason this one is a challenge for me. It feels like I have to strike a delicate, somewhat perfect balance between me taking control and giving my child some control. The main “take away” lessons I’ve learned on setting limits are: don’t give too many commands, give clear realistic commands one at a time, and lastly, follow through with praise or consequences. Despite the challenge, I think the effort will be worth it. But in the mean time, I must dedicate my obsessive and anal self to careful and intentional limit setting for my wild and crazy boys…that won’t be hard at all!
  4. Ignoring – Did you know it’s OK to intentionally ignore your child at times? I let my children know in advance that I am not going to pay attention to them if they continue a certain misbehavior. So far I have ignored whining, arguing, and temper tantrums. Like many other strategies mentioned in this curriculum, ignoring is to be combined with praise for positive behaviors. The main reason I like this method is because you don’t give attention to certain negative behaviors and thereby inadvertently increase that negative attention-seeking behavior down the road.

I continue to be grateful to be a part of such a great parenting class. If you have a child between the ages of 2 and 8 years old, I highly encourage you to check out The Incredible Years Website and find out if there are classes offered in your area. Also, check out my page on Parenting and let me know if you recommend additional parenting resources.

Grady craftI’ll close with a few thoughts on play. The importance of daily one-on-one play has become very apparent to me as I continue with the Incredible Years curriculum. Playing with my boys has been lot of fun, I am bonding deeply with both of them, and they are expanding their creative minds. But, oh man, it’s easy to put play-time on the back burner. I have to remind myself that I have an extra 10 minutes in my day to play with my kids…10 minutes, that’s all it takes! I know it’s oh-so-good for many reasons, so I will continue to strive to play with my kids. Every. Single. Day.

We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything than when we are playing.

~Charles Schaefer

 

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My Beautiful Child-Self

I bring my beautiful child-self outside to play. We…

go to the beach

stick our feet in the wet sandKids at the beach

wiggle our toes in the sand and water

build a huge castle with a moat

hop and run in the shallow water

dive underneath the crashing waves

hop with the waves as they repeatedly hit us in the chest

body surf

                         toss balls and Frisbees

join beach games

                                        flop on our towels to bask in the sun

drink yummy fruity drinks

eat pizza

                                                 dance like crazy to the loud music

Beach Sunsetsing shamelessly till our voices are gone

head home as the sun starts setting

fall asleep as soon as our heads hit our pillows

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I was prompted to write on this topic because I am participating in Women Who Write Rock, a writing retreat spearheaded by Helene Rose. Find out more about this amazing woman and the services she offers at her website Be Brilliant Network.

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The Incredible Years (Part 1)

Transitioning from being a religious parent to a secular parent has been interesting. I used to “rely on god” to provide me strength in my parenting and somehow I did feel better believing that I was being guided by a higher power in raising my children. The reality is I was failing to address some of the issues I was having by simply putting a band-aid on the problem (by praying and trusting in something that wasn’t there) so I could feel better. But, I don’t want to beat up on my former self, I simply wish to learn from my mistakes so I can be a better parent today. The reality is, whether you’re religious or not, parenting is the hardest job you can ever have. Scary Mommy says it so well:

Now, as a freethinking, secular parent, I aim to have a more scientific approach by educating myself about evidence-based parenting methods and building a toolkit of resources and support systems. I hope to glean information from multiple sources and do my best to choose what’s right for my kids, myself, and my family as a whole.

My starting point…

We will be going through the book The Incredible Years by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, PhD

We will be going through the book The Incredible Years by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, PhD

Today I began attending a support group for parents of children ages 2 to 8, it’s called The Incredible Years. Apparently, with all its tears, guilt, anger, laughter, joy and love, these early years are remembered by most as pretty incredible. The group meets for 10 weeks and is focused on helping parents sort out issues they face with young children in order to set the stage for sensitive, nurturing and competent parenting.  Today I was thrilled to sit with other parents, knowing we are all in the same boat… we don’t know what the hell we’re doing as parents!

Play, Play, Play

Playing with my 2 year-old, Drew

Playing with my 2 year-old, Drew

One of the things we were challenged to do in the upcoming week is to play with our kids for 10-15 minutes per day. This regular play is meant to cultivate bonding, positivity and fun, laying the foundation for a solid relationship now and in the future. Sometimes I get so caught up in life that I forget to sit down and play with my kids. And I almost never take the time to sit down individually with each of them because that has it’s own challenges. So, today, I sat down with each of them individually and played, and it was A LOT of fun! We built towers, knocked down towers, and played with play dough. I really enjoyed taking the time to listen and talk with each of my kids individually. All the people who talk up the importance of play… they are on to something! I look forward to more special time with my kids as we build this habit of playing together often.

Wish me well on starting this journey to build my parenting toolkit and support system. If you have any resources to share please put them in the comments! Until next time, I leave you with some wise words from an English poet:

Before I got married I had six theories about raising children; now, I have six children and no theories.
John Wilmot

This was Day 6 of the Zero to Hero Challenge. Learn more here.