(Many thanks to my dear friend Melissa for thinking up the concept of a mouthodometer! Love to you!)
Okay, a mouthodemeter does not really exist, but wouldn’t it be great to have a little pedometer-type gadget that (instead of the number of steps one takes in a day) tracks the number of words one uses? Maybe it could have a shrill alarm when we exceed the word limit per day! Beyond that, have you ever noticed that many us just open the floodgates of words when we are upset? Verbosity at the highest level!
Those of you new to this blog are probably wondering what I am talking about, and what this has to do with mindful parenting. Perhaps these back posts will help: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/14/stop-talking/
What our children need are LESS words. Logical thought starts to come in around age 14, so why do we waste so many words trying to reason with our children? Why do we talk to your three and four year old as if they have the same adult consciousness as we do? Why are we talking to our children as if they are another adult friend?
I guess this is where I differ from what I perceive to be the foundation of gentle discipline in the AP movement. If you perceive your child to be “good”, just less experienced, it makes sense to treat your child almost as an equal with an almost equal say in things and being able to “talk” your child into good decision-making. They are learning, but we can converse with them at perhaps a simpler level than a teenager- but we can still converse, right?
I don’t fully buy into this assumption, and one thing that bothered me after I read all the AP gentle discipline books was that almost the same techniques were used for a five-year-old versus a sixteen-year-old.
I have more of an affinity for the anthroposophic view of the under-7 child. This views the child as a neutral party; a spiritual being on a spiritual path who is learning about right and wrong. The child is seen as having an entirely different consciousness than an adult. The small child lives in their will, in their impulses, and therefore they need guidance through movement and imagination. Because I see the child as learning, I don’t especially expect a child to choose a behavior and develop self-control based upon “good or bad.” That comes in later! I recognize that most small children just do things on impulse without thinking. I do have expectations of a child’s behavior, but I try to have realistic expectations.
Most of all, I try to think things out ahead of time, control the parts of the equation that are in my hands, and then be ready to PHYSICALLY help my child. Less words, more action. Less talking, more doing. Following through 500 times until it sticks.
It would be much easier to parent from the couch and to yell at everyone, right? I have moments where I too, grow weary. That is when I garner support from my spouse, my family, my closest and dearest friends. That is when I change the scenery and we all head outside. That is when I stop to breathe. And I am getting better at asking for help as I get older.
Stop talking. Your children don’t need an adult lecture or sarcasm. They need humor, follow-through, consistency and the chance to make it right.
Try it today,