Tricks To Make Parenting a Treat
All too often in our parent roles, we feel like an ogre or the mean old witch, when we would much rather play the good fairy or the benevolent king. We have so many responsibilities, and want so much for our children, that we may feel under great pressure. How will we get our kids to behave properly if we don’t play the heavy?
Sometimes parents can’t help being cross, but there are tricks that can help turn horrible, tense situations into warm and happy ones. Learning such tricks is not easy, but just as a magician can learn a new trick or skill, so can we. And these skills can have a magical effect on our families.
These skills may sound as ordinary as a magic trick does after it is explained. Still, when you first try them, you may feel awkward and want to give up. But if you keep working with these skills, the magic will appear.
Trick 1: Noticing the Positive
When our oldest two sons were five and three years old, they went through a period that felt like forever but might have been less than a month, when it seemed they were constantly bickering, arguing, fighting. I began to get upset. I scolded, and lectured, and separated, and punished (especially the older boy), and rescued (especially the younger one), and asked, “Must you always fight?”
After the situation had gotten terrible, and everything I did seemed only to make it worse, I became desperate. In my desperation, I formed a desperate plan. I would start ignoring the horrible things my boys were doing and would try to notice something anything good that either one did.
At first I was limited to saying things like: “How nice, you walked through the door together” (without knocking each other into the door jamb), or “It was thoughtful of you to leave a cracker for your brother” (after one had eaten merely 12 of the 13 crackers in the box). Suddenly, though, both boys seemed to be doing lots of good things together. Their fighting subsided to an appropriate level, and I again thought they were wonderful kids.
What had happened? At the time I was so startled that I couldn’t figure it out. Today, I have three ideas.