This the second part of a gentle parenting post. Read part one here.
Henry is a lot like me. He wants what he wants when he wants it. He usually wants it right now and then he wants a little more. He doesn't like people constantly telling him what to do and he likes to do things himself.
Oh, wait. He sounds like a normal toddler. And his little sister. And his mama. And his daddy. And pretty much everybody I know, young or old.
Henry is a person, albeit a very short person, and I try my damnedest to treat him with the respect he deserves.
I'm not going to lie. It's hard to be nice to Henry all the time. He drives me absolute up the wall on a regular basis. The tears. The hysteria. The pushing down little sister. Combine his toddlerhoodness with sleep deprivation, the desire to do something I want to do for just one moment, and a busy little baby girl.....it gets to me eventually and I don't always do right by my little boy.
But, I try. I try to remember his brain soaks up everything he sees and hears. I try to remember if I want him to learn to deal with conflicts in a positive manner, I must consistently model the proper way to deal with stress and conflict.
And, as the adult in the situation, I also try to structure his day so he can succeed in the behavior game.
Enter, my "empathy and options" mantra.
Henry is jumping, with his dirty little sandals still on his feet, on my pale yellow chairs. I was obviously childless when I reupholstered those chairs.....
Ineffective: "Don't jump on the chairs." ----> I know this doesn't work because I've said it a million time.
Effective: "Henry, I know you like to jump but I would rather you jump on the couch. Or would you like to go jump on your bed?"
* Ideally, I would rather him jump into the swimming pool but it's a thousand and one degrees outside and we don't have a shady backyard so cut me some slack.
After eating breakfast at City Bagel this morning, Henry proceeded to blow water out of his cup's straw onto every surface of our house.
Ineffective: "Henry, quit spraying that water. You're making a mess."
Effective: "Henry, do you want to sit on the back steps with me and spray water on the concrete?"
* It worked like a charm and he quickly tired of spraying the water once he was allowed to do so and moved onto his next activity.
So yeah. Empathy and options. I remember with all my might that he is my most special little boy. I take a deep breath. And, I give the kid a path to succeeding in which everyone is happy.