Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Few Tools That Have Worked With Our Sweet Little Guy

My little guy is a little older than 2.5. I have noticed that he seems to feel more content and secure when we do what we say. In order to always do what we say, we try to have very few boundaries. With our little guy, we do not want him throwing any toys except balls or stuffed animals, we do not want him to hit, bite, or kick us or others. Those are two of our main rules. We enforce them be being with our little guy, and by constant reminders and do-overs (not in a nag, nag way, just kind, and firm and consistent). We also redirect him to things that he CAN do. The other day, he picked up a car, and was about to throw it, then looked questioningly at us. "No, cars are not for throwing," I said firmly. He ran over and picked up another toy, looking at us again, his eyes saying, "what about this one?" "No, that toy is hard. It gives owies!" I replied, "But, you can throw your ball." A look of relief came into his eyes, and he said, "Where is it?" and trotted happily into the bedroom to retrieve it.

I also love routines, and so does my little guy. They help so much with behavior issues. For example, I limit TV and sweets. He is allowed a small sweet treat and 20-30 minutes of TV in the am when he wakes up, and the same thing in the pm after his nap. He loves this routine!! It keeps me from having to constantly be answering requests for more TV or more sweets all day, and it gives him something to look forward too. Routines are boundaries, but they also give kiddos something to look forward too. Oh, and we go to the park after I do dishes every day (being outdoors a ton lets out nervous energy too).

I also like to think of my words as "gold." They are so valuable, and if I mean what I say now, then it sets a foundation for my little guy's later years too. So, if I ask my son to do something, and he flat-out refuses, then I repeat, "You need to....". If he still refuses I say, "You need to..., or mommy will help you....". This is magical. Little man would prefer to do things on his own, to assert his independence, so 9 times out of 10, he chooses to do what I asked him on his own. If he does not, I pick him up immediately, and help him do what I asked. If he throws a fit, I will allow the fit some space (unless we are in the middle of the road, then I would move him to the side), and allow my little guy to calm down, and then we still follow through with what needs to be done. If he is tired, hungry, angry, lonely, then I do not request things of him, but deal with his needs first.

Another wonderful tool, is to give your little guy an exciting, beneficial-to-him reason to do something (this is not a bribe, as it is what we would do anyway, it just reminds him that something good is coming after he does what is not so fun--this motivates me too, with my household chores). My little man hates getting his diaper changed, but when he hears, "First get diaper changed, then we can go to the park," he is very quick to lie on the floor for me to change it. Or, if he won't wear his shoes, "Ok, no shoes! Then no playing outside," (said with empathy and kindness)...this takes patience, a willingness to wait for your child to decide on his own that he is ready to get his shoes on so that he can go play outside, etc.

GD means that we choose to parent with grace and empathy, to help our children, with gentleness, do what they need to do, to get down on their level and try to understand life from their perspective. It is far from permissive; it is a TON of work, because you cannot be a couch parent who yells out orders to your kids. If you say something, you need to be able to KINDLY and LOVINGLY enforce it. You have to be willing to endure tantrums and learn how best to soothe and encourage your child through the tantrum. You have to realize that you are parenting before God and not before others.

When I write things out, it always helps me to see areas that I need to work on, so this exercise has been good for me! More than anything, a walk with God by us parents is essential. Without His strength working through us, we would be unable to be both firm and gentle, wise and patient.


  1. Thank you for this very helpful post.

  2. Wondeful and wise words. This comes at a perfect time for me, as my 17 month old is going thru some big, emotional changes in her development. I needed these encouraging words right now!

    I look forward to reading thru your archives and seeing what you post in the future!