Parenting Ahead

Parenting AHEAD

 (originally written  February 2012

(Both of my angels were adopted because of disruption)

I posted earlier about Children not being adults here.  I wanted to follow up with a few thoughts on Parental Leadership.
Our children, especially our children who have come home at older ages, have no understanding of leadership, or their need for parents.  Yes, they all want them, but they really do not know what they are. I love the Wendy description  of what a mother is:
For the child who has never had that tender hand, the whisper that bids you goodnight, the very thing they desire, can really frighten them.
Our children need our true leadership, through tender and gentle words of wisdom.  Do we catch ourselves instead yelling in the other room, “NO MORE TALKING! I MEAN IT!”   I did that once and one of the girls said back, “Anybody got a peanut?”  LOL…
I was not taking leadership on that night. Instead, I was being lazy.

Leadership does not mean being a controlling dictator, it means leading by example, and parenting AHEAD of the children so they can follow, NOT following behind, and complaining loudly the whole way as you can clean up the destruction from the path they made.

Tenderly guiding BEFORE the fact leads to SUCCESS!  “Before we do our kitchen chore, I want you to know what is expected. ” Stick TO THAT expectation!  Don’t make it too far out of reach, as in a goal they cannot keep, like I want the kitchen spick and span in 30 minutes and they are 5 years old.  Always aim for them to succeed!
Start with simple….
“I need you to fill this bag with all the kitchen trash!”  THEN. “Can you gather the silverware and put it in the sink for me?”  THANK YOU!  If you see them shrink back, then, tenderly helping… “Here, let me help you with that.” If they are not ready, take them to the rocking chair and soothe them, then talk about what you are going to do when they are calm, and then try again. We had to do this with Sweetie 1 and Sweetie 4 many times.  And sing a song while you do it; it calms little nerves. 🙂

DO NOT GIVE UP until you are successful!
I do believe thinking back on it, the first time Miss Sweetie 4 had kitchen duty, it took several trips to the rocking chair, several times of me having to show her how to load the dishwasher and several little fits on her part before she finally listened. It seemed like  hours! But, she succeeded and the fits didn’t reoccur.
She learned that mama was consistent and that she was safe.  When we finished, I praised her efforts and then we rocked.

During that calm rocking time I discipled her.  I gently reminded her that all that stalling and whining and melt down time, resulted in her not having  the time she needed to play….(this is a natural consequence) Making  sure she understood,  she was also reassured that we were confident she would do MUCH better next time.  She agreed.  She also apologized and I forgave her. (This is not done in a condemning or critical tone, but a soft engaging tone of love)

When you go into the store, engage them in helping putting the cans in the cart. Get them to help you find the right products from your list if they are older. Or even organize the basket by food groups.  The next time, engage them in helping pick out the cereal of choice, giving them a voice, but make the behavior requirements the same.  Double engagement really helps to distract.  If you keep them busy, they forget about disobeying.  Stay 3 steps ahead.    If you see them headed for meltdown, divert, abort the mission.  Some things can be done at a later time! This way, you are not reacting but being 3 steps ahead!  When you get into the car, PRAISE THEIR EFFORTS ANYWAY (the ones they made)
Parenting AHEAD, will help keep you from full blown issues both at home and out in public.

( For those of you with children who will recoil at praise, or will reject it and try to prove they don’t deserve it,  Praise them ANYWAY!  PLAN ON FALLOUT.. and be prepared for the rocking chair.)

It won’t be long before it is normal to behave properly with little setbacks.   When those setbacks occur. DO NOT fall back on lazy parenting styles of warning, accusation, anger, parental tantrums etc.   ( the very things we accuse them of) LOL

  Reassure your child that they can be successful next time.This will make your child feel SECURE.
They will know that you are not wavering in their chaos, but you are the rock they need to depend upon. There is nothing more scary to a traumatized child,  than a parent who is out of control.
But staying even keeled and tenderly leading them will help them begin to see that you have faith that THEY CAN HEAL, and that you are proud of their efforts, no matter how tiny the step.  Our hurt children NEED TO KNOW that we have even a smidge of FAITH IN THEM, so they can learn to trust us. If they think we view them as hopelessly flawed, hopelessly hurt and that they just need to be fixed, this will do nothing but cause them self doubt, shame and continual grief.

Speaking TRUTH into our kids is parenting ahead.   “I know you are kind” instead of “you are mean”, “I know you are honest” instead of you are a liar, “I know you are respectful” instead of you are disrespectful, even if you have to say, “Deep down in your heart, I KNOW this to be true!” or “Inside you there is an HONEST girl just waiting to come out!” These are words of truth and HOPE, and just like in the orphanages, where all the kids long and HOPE for a mother and father; they can cling to the HOPE that someday they will be whole and honest and loving and kind and respectful and  secure.
Parenting Ahead, GIVES them that hope.  And it gives US that hope too. 🙂

Comments warmly welcomed!


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