Thursday, May 26, 2011

Book Club Thursday| Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours

We are reading through the book Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Dr. Kevin Leman. All direct quotes are in bold type.

Chapter 2: It's All in the Eye of the Beholder

This chapter was chock full of information and examples of how to approach our children and what they perceive as reality.  I think one of the most important quotes to remember in regards to our children is: One of your major goals in using Reality Discipline is to help your child think and learn.  But in order to be successful, you have to understand what reality is- particularly for your child.  What precisely happened, or what precisely is going on, is not really the issue.  It is what a child thinks that counts.  Your child's perception of what is happening is the reality you must deal with. 

As mothers or constant caregivers of small children, we are immersed in their worlds all day long.  We are the ones who understand their language, what they are talking about when others ask, "What are they saying?", and where their thought processes have taken them.  When dealing with our children to correct a behavior, we need to understand what their young minds are perceiving as reality.  Is it harder work than just meting out a punishment? Yes. Does it mean we have to think before we act? Yes. Does it mean that we have to put in effort and time and love and patience? Yes.

A very real example happened for us yesterday.  For Addie's breakfast, I asked her what she wanted to eat (I occasionally allow her to chose).  She said pancakes.  I gave her a blueberry pancake (her two favorite things in one) and three strawberries.  She ate the strawberries (I think she inhaled them!) and then said she didn't want the pancake.  I reminded her that if she did not eat the pancake, she would not be eating again until lunch time (it was about 8:00 when this happened).  She insisted that she did not want to eat her pancake.  I covered her plate, put it in the fridge, and told her that we would not eat again until lunch time.  Throughout the morning, she would quietly mention that she was hungry (and it broke my heart!).  I would just remind her that she had not eaten her breakfast and we needed to wait for lunchtime to eat again and then we would move on with whatever we were doing (singing songs, school work, reading stories). If her pediatrician had not recommended this method to me, I don't know that I would have actually tried it on my own.   

At lunchtime, I pulled her pancake back out, reheated it, and made my lunch.  I found her sitting at her chair ready to eat.  She told me that she didn't want her pancake.  In turn, I said that we were not wasting food, and if she wanted to wait until dinner to eat that was fine (I was praying and hoping that she was not as stubborn as ...ahem...her mother).  I think that pancake was gone in a matter of ten minutes!  The reality for her was that if she refused what she had asked for and what Mommy served her, she would have to wait for the next meal to eat and her tummy was not going to put up with that.

In chapter 2, Dr. Leman covers three different ways that children learn and how they see reality: Birth Order, "Power trips", and by Watching Us.  However, because of the depth that he goes into in each of these categories, we will only be covering Birth Order today.  Next week, we will cover the other two.

Birth Order

Dr. Leman explains birth order and its tendencies in a family having three children.  If there are more or fewer children then the personality traits differ in the last two categories.  He is very clear to point out that these are not absolutes, but are the tendencies that he has observed as he has counseled hundreds of children and their families and has researched the studies of others who have found these same tendencies in their studies.  As you look through these traits, see which ones apply to you, your spouse and your children.

Firstborns are often achievers, They tend to walk and talk earlier and they have a larger vocabulary at a younger age. Firstborns tend to be perfectionistic and will face new situations and challenges with a great deal of caution.  Firstborns don't like making mistakes.  Firstborns have a unique need to be right and "perfect" every time.

Second born children tend to be the opposite of firstborns in many ways.  The second-born usually has life a little bit easier than his older brother or sister, who probably served as something of a guinea pig. Second-borns often (but not always) wind up as the "middle-child." Because they seem to wind up in the middle in just about everything, they tend to be mediators.  Middle-born children like to avoid conflict as much as they can, but they are not weaklings by any sense of the term.  They usually know how to fend for themselves because they have landed between two very special people in the family- the oldest and the youngest.

The child born third in the family often winds up the youngest. The youngest child tend to be outgoing, personable, and manipulative.

Dr. Leman goes on to say that because of these tendencies in children because of their birth order, they will perceive life and reality differently because of where they land in the birth order.   He goes on to remind parents to question themselves if they are making each child feel loved and appreciated and to make sure they understand the pressures and tensions going on in their family.  If you are interested in reading more about the birth order, Dr. Leman has written a book called The Birth Order.

That's why it's always absolutely vital to discipline a child by making him accountable for his actions instead of punishing the child with verbal or physical abuse.

One particular part of this section that was wonderful for us in our situation was concerning the addition of a new baby and how to help the older (and in our case, only) child feel less intruded upon.  He says, "Mom should talk to her firstborn while she is pregnant and explain what is happening and just what is growing inside her tummy.  She can let the firstborn feel his (her) little brother or sister kicking inside."
   In every way she can, many months before the second child arrives, Mother can be programming her firstborn to be prepared for baby brother or sister and to be aware that the new arrival is going to take some of Mom's time, too.
   Once the second-born child arrives, the parents should do everything they can to involve the firstborn in its care.

Before my sister Faye was born, my mother drew some pictures and wrote a little story about a little girl named Suzette (me) and how excited she was because her mommy was going to have a baby.  In the pictures, Mom drew herself as a stick figure with a big belly and a little baby stick figure inside the belly.  In the story, Suzette shared her toys with the baby, loved the baby, and called the baby her friend.  I was so prepared for this little baby to arrive (in those days, we didn't know if it would be a boy or girl), that when my parents finally brought Faye home from the hospital, I crawled onto my parents' bed, where they had laid her, and asked her if she wanted to play with me.  What a let down when I was told that she was too small to play!  As we grew up, we became very close although there was a five year difference between us. 

We have been trying to prepare Addie in the same way for Ian's arrival.  When I feel my little mister kicking, I pull Addie over and put her hand on my belly.  We talk about Addie sharing her toys with Ian (yesterday, she was ready to share Taffy with him!). It was really important to us that Addie be there for the ultrasound also so she could see the baby that we talk so much about. We are even reading a book titled I'm a Big Sister! by Ronne Randall (thanks to GrandTiti), and I allow her to interrupt and ask questions throughout the story. She has already decided that she is going to help me changed the diapers, feed him a bottle (don't know how we are going to approach that subject yet since we will be nursing), and two nights ago, she said that Ian was going to sleep with her in her bed.

Before we decided to have our second child, we were told that we wanted to have them close together (sorry, but I don't care for people telling me what I want) because we wanted them to grow up to be close.  I would just say in return that my sister and I were 5 years apart and we were still close.  It all has to do with the preparation that parents put in to their children and the nurture and relationship that the parents encourage and cultivate daily between the siblings once they are here.  Believe me, I know many families where the children are close in age and that is all the closeness they have. 

Kristi and John from Team Mac are a great example of parents who nuture and cultivate the relationship between their children.  In fact, yesterday, Kristi told me about the Berenstein Bears movies that she has been getting from the library.  It is a cartoon show about a family of bears, and it has a brother and sister bear who share a great relationship.  We want to expose our children to what we want them to see as normal behavior, not what society says is normal. 

One thing is certain: each child is unique. 

I'll be talking much more on this topic tomorrow as it is one that is a sensitive area for me.  God did not create children from a cookie cutter.  He made them all unique and different with different learning styles, different types of intelligence (not levels, but types), different personalities, different like and dislikes, and the list goes on.  When we try to force each child into the mold we think they should fit into, or the mold that will make life easier for us, we are hurting them far more than helping them... and we are teaching them to compare themselves to others.... but more on this tomorrow. 

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