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Question of the Week - Teaching by Example

This morning was I was on my own with the kids for the first morning since having knee surgery. Londo did get the Pookie out of his crib and watched him until he had to leave for work, letting me (and the Pumpkin who was in bed with me, of course) sleep as long as possible. Which was very helpful, considering I stayed up way to late last night because someone was wrong on the internet! (Love that pic, and thanks to @Cloud for linking to it in one of her posts.)

But I did stay up too late, and I was sore from the previous day, which was my first day back in the office including driving myself around. I was trying not to be grumpy, but I was. I snapped at my daughter and started walking away over her dillydallying instead of getting ready. After about three steps (hobbles with cane!) down the hallway, I realized I wasn't reacting well. So I took a deep breath, and said out loud so my daughter could hear, "I shouldn't have yelled. That wasn't right. I shouldn't lose my patience like that. I need to try that again."

I walked back into the bathroom and explained to my girl that it was hard for me to stand so long while she was flopping around, that my knee was very sore, that I was grumpy and I lost my patience. Playfully, I said, "I need to find more patience. Where do you think some might be?" And she laughing said there was some over there, pointing to the other side of the bathroom.

I went over and got some "patience." Then I told her I wanted us both to try again. I said that I was going to keep my patience and I needed her to focus on getting ready. Then she added, "And you shouldn't yell because it makes me sad." I told her I would do my best, and that I needed her to do her best.

Next thing you know, she's ready for the day in cute pigtails, the Pookie was already in a cute t-shirt with cars, and I was ready to drop them off at school and go to my first physical therapy appointment.

I tell that part of the morning to point out the way I talk things out loud in front of my daughter. Things I want her to learn and understand and also imitate when she is feeling the same way. This is a huge part of the way I parent. And I know it helps, because she adds things like the fact that I shouldn't yell, and she does try again with me, and we generally do better when I use this parenting tactic.

As the kiddos ate breakfast, I got some last minute things. I was finally ready to start thinking about leaving the house and making sure I had everything I needed for my physical therapy appointment. Then, I thought about the time.

THE TIME! Oh, man!

Normally, I usher the kids to the front hall and the "getting ready" chairs at 8:30 so we can be in the car and leaving by 8:45 to get to their school at about 9:00. BUT this morning, my physical therapy was at 9:00. I made that appointment before I knew that Londo couldn't do drop off that day and that my mom was out of town. I had to do the morning, do the drop off and still make my 9:00 appointment, which meant I had to have kids in the car BY 8:30!

And of course, it was already 8:30. And everything was taking me slightly longer than usually because limping with a cane is slower than walking with two working legs. I started to freak out, making it very clear to the kids that I was very frustrated that I hadn't accounted for the time correctly and that I wasn't mad at them. But I was freaking out. The kids? They were awesome. They hurried, put up only a little fuss about shoes and sun block, and generally were helpful and focused. But even with that, it was 8:48 by the time I got them in the car and backed out my driveway.

I was so upset. I started crying a little bit from the stress and frustration. And do you know what my daughter said? She said, "It's okay, Mommy. You just need to calm down a bit. Try taking some deep breathes, like this... in and out, in and out." I listened to her and did what she said. Darned if she wasn't right! I DID feel better!

I thanked her, told her I did feel better and then asked for no talking for a minute while I finished calming down. I handed them the rest of their toast that they didn't have time to finish in the rush out the door. And then I was able to think and figure out what to do. I called the place, told them I would be late to the appointment, and they said it was no problem. And I felt a TON better.

I thanked my daughter and told her that because she helped me calm down, I was able to "think think think" and figure out what I needed to do, which was call the place, and they said it was no problem that I was going to be late!

This week's question of the week is:
What have you seen/heard your kid(s) do/say that reflects something you've been teaching them by example?

Unfortunately, it's not always good things we teach them by example. Nor do they always use the lessons correctly.

My son has been saying, "I mad!" all the freaking time lately. He's not always really mad, but he likes to say it. The reason we taught him this was so he'd learn the words to say he was mad and stop his foot to show how mad instead of the hitting and pushing and biting he was starting to do. So even though it was a good lesson that the Pumpkin and I showed him how to express his anger, he's now doing it just to get a reaction out of us. But, you know, he's Two.

How about your kid(s)? Have you shown them how to do something? Have you expressed your words hoping they will do the same? Does it work for you? Or are they repeating your curse words instead of the good job praises?


hush said…
That is so wonderful, and you must be feeling extremely validated you are raising emotionally intelligent kids! What a wonderful payoff!

I recently re-read the chapter on anger in "Liberated Parents, Liberated Children" by Faber and Mazlish of "How To Talk.." fame. The part about being authentic with your own emotions resonated with me, and just like @caramama does, talking through the process of how you handle those big emotions of anger and frustration is really important to model.

It is all finally starting to sink in with my 3.5 y.o. DS. Yesterday our neighbor's dog dropped by our house to say hi and the kids were thrilled. DH overheard DS telling his little sister "I know you want to stay and pet this dog some more, but he needs to go home to his mom and dad. I know you're sad but we need to say bye to the dig now, ok?" She said "uh-huh!" and they came back into the house. Wow.

I also talk a lot about using words, and when I was telling DS I was starting to get frustrated because I was having to repeat myself he said "I'm glad you used words to tell me how you feel." LOL!
mom2boy said…
My parenting style is a lot like yours with a lot of explaining and talking through situations. He certainly has picked up on the "feeling vocabulary" I use. It works as long as I maintain limits and I have to remember to set those ahead of time. Otherwise it becomes less instruction and more negotiating and arguing.
Becoming Mommy said…
We do encourage expressing yourself verbally--sometimes at high volume, but still verbally. Yelling in our house isn't considered a bad thing, just what's done when talking politely in a normal voice doesn't get heard. We've also been trying to encourage patience, but its hit or miss. I often hear Sasha call, "Mommy, I'm being patient!" but I have no idea what he's waiting for. Because he never asked in the firstplace.
It's allawork in progress...
Cloud said…
This is an awesome story.

I'm too brain-fried to come up with an answer to your question, but I wanted to tell you the story was awesome!
Lisa F. said…
I'm fried too (just threw a 6 year old Star Wars bday party!) but just wanted to say, my therapist got me into saying that we need a do-over, or asking if *I* can have a do-over with regard to a mishandled situation. Deep breaths & do-overs rock. Gives us a chance to repair & reconnect.

Hope you're healing up easily & quickly.
Claudia said…
Hi! It's taken me forever, but I've finally come over to your blog. It's lovely, and this story is especially so.

I don't know if this is an example of my daughter having learned something from me or if she just has a lot of empathy for a 4-5 year-old. But when she was 4, DH responded to something I said in a less-than-sensitive way. I went off to the bedroom to fume/cry/calm down. DD came in and asked what I was doing. By that time I decided to refocus and think about the books in front of me, so I answered that I was looking at books. She said, "you look sad." I said "yea." She sat on my lap and pet my face, and said "I love you." Of course that made me cry a lot. She wasn't scared or worried, and then asked if I would feel better if I had some water. I said yes. She then went out and yelled to DH to get a glass of water. She brought it to me, and sat with me again. DH called that dinner was ready, and she called back that we'd be out in a minute. I was utterly blown away by her empathy, her love, her calmness, her discretion with DH (never reported that I was crying), everything.
(If you know Danish, then imagine DD saying all those things in Danish, since that's what she did.)

And I'm sorry to hear you're hobbling around, but I am as well, and trying to figure out what is wrong with mine. I've had a damaged ACL since I was 21, and re-injured my knee the other weekend; after 6 glorious years of no incidents. ARGH! I was jumping on the trampoline with DD (uh huh, idiot move), and landed on a ball and *crack*, it was all sorts of pain and flashbacks. It's been 11 days and it's still really unstable, has a lump on one side of the kneecap, and crackles when I bend/straighten it. Going to the doc again today, and I will push for a MRI.

Yet another blog I have to add to my list...Cloud is next :)

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