This is my 4th post as part of my Positive Parenting Series. If you’re just tuning in, you can catch these posts here: Part 1: I’ve switched to positive parenting and I’m not looking back, Part 2: It’s easier than I thought, and Part 3: For the sensitive child.
My daughter, C, gets very little blog attention. It’s hard to blog about a toddler who, save for a few little issues, is a pretty easy kid, when you have another one the same age at home who requires much more energy. It’s not that I don’t have plenty to say about her. Except for her adventurous spirit, which she gets from her Daddy, she’s a mini-version of me. She’s a people pleaser, a do-whatever-her-brother-says toddler, a rule-follower just because Mommy said so. She loves arts and crafts and being silly. She loves people. I could write an entire post on just how awesome and sweet and silly and beautiful she is, and how proud I am to have her as my daughter. Maybe I will.
We started positive parenting for my son, because our previous ways weren’t working. But we’ve started to notice a change in C, as well. These strategies work for every child – not just the challenging ones. Here’s an example:
My daughter breaks my heart sometimes. Just this evening, as we snuggled on the couch, one of our dogs jumped up next to C to bark out the window. C gave Riley a little push, which startled the dog. I said to C, “Do not push Riley, that can hurt her and it’s not okay. Instead, say, ‘Excuse me, Riley. Will you please move?'” C, who is just a tad sassy at times, responded with, “I didn’t push her!”
I’ve learned, through positive parenting, to STOP TALKING.Getting into it with a toddler, even to explain my reasoning or what I saw, is always, always, pointless. So instead of arguing with C about what I know she did, I didn’t say a thing.
No more than two minutes later, Riley jumped up again. Without me saying a word, my rule-follower said, “Excuse me, Riley. Will you please move?”
You bet I praised her up and down. “C, excellent job! You remembered to say excuse me to Riley. That was so polite!”
That’s when her lip started to tremble. Then it started to pop out. Tears welled up in her eyes. My heart broke when I realized that she was crying not after being reprimanded for doing the wrong thing, but after she did the RIGHT thing. It’s an odd emotion that she was feeling, and an odd one that I felt in response. A mix of pride and guilt, happiness and sadness over her tears. On her end? I can only assume she felt overwhelmed with having made a good choice, one that I supported without arguing or debating with her.
I couldn’t help myself – I said, “C, are you feeling sad?”
And then the waterworks. Oh, she cried. Cried right after I told her I was proud of her. Be still my heart.
She’s learned, through watching her brother the past few weeks, what feels good when they get upset. So instead of carrying on, she asked through her tears for a tissue, and then a hug. I held her, I didn’t say a word, and we moved on.
Even “easy” children still need guidance, modeling and support. C, unfortunately, was a witness to B’s over-the-top meltdowns over the past year and, on occasion, my reactions as I either waved the white flag in tears or got angry myself. I feel absolutely wretched that she watched (and still continues to watch) some rough moments, because she’s a happy child, and I want her to stay that way, keeping her innocence intact as long as possible. Now, I can’t control my son’s actions (which as you know, have already drastically improved), but I can control the way I handle them, which she will witness. Modeling has never been more important in my house.
I know positive parenting is having an impact on her, because she’s choosing ways to calm herself down and responds so well to my tone of voice and techniques. It’s a reminder that positive parenting is not just for those challenging children – it’s for everyone. Everyone deserves to be heard, to have their feelings acknowledged. All children deserve to know they are supported and loved, and I’m happy to be delivering that message to my daughter as well as my son.
Thank you so much for reading this post from my Positive Parenting Series. Looking for more about raising toddlers? Sign up to receive posts by email at the top of this page!