Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mom's Learning Curve

Abby has a wonderful temperament. She is as sweet and loving as they come...she is also stubborn and independent. We often hear glowing reports from her teachers about how she has such a positive influence on the other students and how she is an absolute "angel". I agree, she is a pretty spectacular kid, but lately we've been seeing less and less of that "angel" at home. Instead, we've been getting the demanding general who seems bent on perfecting her tantrum throwing abilities. She always redeemed herself by bedtime, but the path to get to that point has been rather rocky.

We began asking questions like, What is going on with her? and Could it be hormones? It was one question that Jason asked though, that really got me thinking - Are we too hard on her? I mentally reviewed our days and was convicted. I was spending far too much time and energy bossing that poor kid around. I could hear myself saying things like:

  • Abby, you can show me the dance in an minute. Come here so we can wash your hands.
  • Abby, it's time to come inside, you need to eat.
  • We need to do your finger poke, come and sit down.
  • Abby, no...
  • Abby, stop...
  • Abby, come here!
I'd become a horrible nag. Frankly, I couldn't blame her for being incredibly angry and frustrated. Now I wasn't "on" her all the time, we really do have great fun around here, but the fact of the matter was, I wasn't giving her the room she needed to feel independent and valued. I spend my days managing a classroom of kids and Abby had become one more for me to manage. 

So, the last two days I've been experimenting. Instead of barking out orders I've backed off and given her choices. I've replaced commands with phrases like:
  • Abby, let me know when you are ready to wash your hands.
  • How about we come outside after dinner to play?
  • Let me know when you are ready for your finger poke.
  • I'm going to head upstairs, you are welcome to come up too.
  • Hey Abby? Could you help me....?
Let me tell you how the last two days have gone: 
  • We've had no tantrums or tears. 
  • Abby has not fought coming in the house after school, getting her hands washed, going potty, or getting a bath - all tasks that routinely would spark arguments. 
  • Abby has cleaned up her toys (without prompting), took the time to straighten ups things around the living room, and helped me empty the dishwasher - all with a smile on her face. 
  • There's been no yelling, frustration, or stress. 
  • There has been more laughing, fun, and smiles. 
  • And most importantly, I've seen with new eyes what a lovely young lady Abby is becoming. 

I'd spent so much time and energy trying to figure out what Abby's problem was, that I failed to see that I should have been looking a bit closer to home. It is hard for this mom to give up control, but I'm looking forward to a summer of practicing turing over more and more responsibility to Abby and watching her rise to the challenge - because, as you know, she's pretty spectacular.

Are you surprised she picked out these sunglasses?
Me neither.

I love her smiling eyes.
Determined. Nothing will hold her back.


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