I've been reading a new parenting book that seems to have given me some useful tools. The author is Janet Lansbury (she was a student of Magda Gerber) and her whole idea is respectful parenting. I wasn't so sure what to think of it. About half the time when I'm reading it I'm thinking, "What a load of...", but it has also given me a different perspective from which to view this whole parenting gig. For one, I'm making it much too complicated. I can talk an issue to death (it's a talent, really) and nobody appreciates that, especially a toddler. While my brain knew that reasoning with a little one was silly, my stubbornness just wanted to talk her into behaving. Ya know, to make her see the error of her ways. Given how I've shared my frustration in the last couple of months, you know how well that was working. So I've been doing my best to take it down a notch or two. Keep it simple. Don't talk it to death. Specifically, when Eleanor is feeling frustrated or upset (and acting like a maniac), I try to keep it to two sentences. First, I acknowledge how she's feeling and then state what is happening. Example: "I know you are feeling frustrated because you didn't want to leave the park. It is beginning to rain and we are going home." Really, when I was reading about this method I rolled my eyes, but I was also willing to try anything. From what I can tell, parenting 'experts' differ on if adding "okay?" to the end of that is good or bad. I'm finding that with Eleanor it absolutely helps. It doesn't mean that she gets to change the plan, it just means that she gets to acknowledge the plan. Even as I'm typing it, it seems far from what is natural to me, but it is working. It isn't a magic pill, but it is definitely working. She's strong willed (like her momma) and having her feelings acknowledged, but knowing that I'm maintaining boundaries & rules seems to be much more effective than what I was doing. Along the same lines of keeping it simple... I have to keep my cool. When she used to rear back to hit the dog, I would overreact, get on to her, and then go in to how she needs to be nice to the dog and not hit and just be gentle and... Geez, I'm getting on my own nerves. New plan. Intervene if I am able (or stop her as soon as it happens) and simply state, "I will not let you hit the dog." Then don't let it happen again. Remove her from the situation or remove the dog from the situation or whatever needs to be done, but state that I won't let her do it and then don't let her do it. Simple. No argument. She knows she needs to be nice, I think she just likes to get a reaction out of us by doing such things. Taking out our hurried reaction takes away the fun. Keep it simple and very clear. So yeah, you can imagine that it is often difficult to remain unruffled, but it absolutely helps.
I've also been making a point to slow down. Sometimes we are in a hurry, but sometimes I'm just impatient. Slow down, let the girl walk. Let her pick up a rock or touch a flower or look at the clouds in the sky. It takes longer to get there, but I'm always amazed at how she responds when I slow down and let her be a big girl. The journey is often such fun... and you get to stop and take notice of your shadows.
We took Eleanor to the Amazeum in Bentonville a couple of weeks ago. It was fun, but it's a bit over stimulating and I think that Eleanor will enjoy it even more when she gets a bit bigger. Here are a few photos from the day.
She's attached to Minnie Mouse lately. She's started wanting to sleep with it (which is adorable), but she also wants to eat with it. In the mornings I haul Eleanor & Minnie to the kitchen table and Minnie sits in Daddy's spot while Eleanor eats.
Eleanor loved the music time today.