|Allison and Emily hosted Abigail and Sarah|
on a play-date earlier this week.
I've always said you never know what around the corner in life. And there are a lot of corners when you’re navigating the trenches of parenting. The parenting class I’m taking is the best investment of my time I've ever made. And still, you never can tell.
The class rocked this week. We had a guest speaker for the evening. Besides having four grown children of her own, she’s is a parenting coach who has spent her career dealing with difficult children. She refers to those kids as, “spirited children.”
After spending an hour talking to us about why children behave the way they do, she opened up the discussion for questions—a parenting coach specializing in children’s behavioral issues offering her insights and knowledge for the asking. We fired away.
Among the many great talking points we hit, one that struck home was Sensory Integration. Allison’s kindergarten class shares space with a class of first graders. According to Kelly, it’s usually pretty chaotic. One day while Kelly was volunteering there, she noticed that after getting an assignment, Allison became very fidgety. At one point she slid off her chair and sat on her knees next to her table as she worked.
I described this to our guest speaker and asked what it suggested to her. She replied that it suggested that Allison’s brain was trying to modulate her sensory receptors, and she was probably trying to ground herself. That gave me something to think about next time I see her getting squirrely.
We learned that giving kids a high-five is more than just having fun with them. Brain research has shown how it affects some neural pathway. You have to admit, it does feel good to high-five someone.
We learned the difference between Authoritative Parenting and Authoritarian Parenting which is basically keeping kids on track rather than pouncing on mistakes. We learned the tenets of Intentional Parenting and the importance of modeling desired behavior.
She demonstrated the proper way to give instructions: rather than call out from the other room or while we’re doing something else, close the distance and get on eye level. Seems obvious but we all know the reality of being distracted and trying to multitask. And we were given handouts that outlined what types of behavior and capabilities we can expect at what ages. I was scribbling notes left and right.
Our guest speaker also talked about adjusting our expectations. She pointed out that adults don’t always do the right thing; we lash out when we’re mad; eat things we know we’re not supposed to; make irrational decisions.
She asked how we would like it if we were working on our computer and someone walked up and shut off the monitor and gave us an order. That’s what it’s like for kids at times. She also pointed out that when adults get frustrated or need a break from our surroundings, we can usually leave the room and go regroup, while kids are usually stuck, be it at a daycare or school or even home.
I walked out of class feeling great about all the new information and insights I had gained. And then came the morning. The girls didn’t want to get out of bed. They didn’t want to get dressed; they didn’t want to put on theirs shoes and coats; they didn’t want to walk up the hill; they didn’t want to ride the bus. I was mentally exhausted after the first hour of my day.
Wednesday was more of the same. Out of pure frustration, Allison got docked an allowance we haven’t even started yet and a play date--before she even got out of bed. Emily was making wardrobe changes two minutes before she was supposed to leave for school. When I called home in the afternoon all I could hear was Allison wailing in the background because she wanted quiet while she did her homework and Emily was talking too loud.
Kelly and I huddled in the family room that evening. She’s with the kids 24/7. I know the toll it can take. The parenting class has helped me make sense of our situation. For example, when kids are going through a phase in which they’re developing new skills, they sometimes take a step backwards on things they already know how to do. The important thing to remember is, there are many phases of development, so what’s driving us crazy now will eventually give way. To be replaced by other challenges, I’m sure. So we reminded ourselves of the things learned in parenting class and we tried to focus on the bigger picture.
When the alarm when off on Thursday morning, there was Allison, fully dressed, including her coat and backpack. I was in the office while Emily was snuggling with Mommy. Allison had even poured herself a bowl of cereal and was eating breakfast as she roamed around. You never can tell.