Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What things CAN'T you do?

Ray and I went to a parenting course last night. We've had more yelling in this house than either of us are comfortable with and Xander's listening skills somehow seem to be deteriorating, though there seems to be no sign of a physical or mental decline. I want to say "he's four" and leave it at that, but I suspect that we could learn some parenting skills. Not that we suck, but we aim to be better. And I aim to have less yelling in our house. If for no other reason than it is exhausting.

My Dad was a big yeller. His whole family yells. Mom mentioned that she thinks that was my grandmother's prime parenting technique. And the falling out Mom and I had with my aunt (her sister) was primarily over yelling. Hers, that is. So it is no surprise there is a lot of yelling going on. We're working on it.

But I digress.

One of the things that this parenting expert (read: psychologist) talked about was the messages you imprint on your kids. She suggested that instead of waiting until they are grown to describe their attributes, think about the ones you want them to have when they are grown, write them down, and start telling them now that they do have those traits. Start small. If you want your kid to be organized or helpful, when he puts his plate in the sink, notice it aloud and tell him he is "helpful".

So I started thinking about the messages that we are giving Xander. And one of them is that we talk about and complain about him not listening a LOT. To be fair, it happens a lot. But what if that is a downward spiral. I'm going to try telling him he is a good listener and see if it gets rid of that. I believe it will, since the last few weeks we had the listening chart and just by being rewarded for it, he listened more and took more pride in it. He is four though, so I know that we have years and years of listening impaired behaviour to look forward to.

But if I am programming him to think he isn't a good listener, then what else am I telling him?

Which turned into: what have people told me that I am or am not. What things do I think I can't do, just because of something someone said?

  • I can't dance, because my parents told me that I was clumsy. I'm very self-conscious about it.
  • I can't cut. Paper or fabric or anything like that. When I was in grade 8 my teacher told me that I "must have failed cutting in Kindergarten". I joke about it a lot, but I truly believe that I cannot cut properly.
  • I can't draw and am not artistic. My 5th or 6th grade teacher told me that I was too old to be drawing faces on my suns. And I just stopped doing art. As an adult, I see that I was leaning towards cartooning, but instead of taking a positive spin, which may have led to something else eventually, she cut me down.
These are just a few examples, but I am sure that if you sit and think about it, you can find a few things that you think you cannot do. Think about it further and try and see if there is a message there that someone implanted along the way.

Then think about what messages you are sending to your kids.

As for me, I am off to work for now, then I am going to dance with my kids, cut out flowers and trucks from magazines, and draw a background for the kids to paste them on! Can't indeed!


mapsgirl said...

Glad you enjoyed the session.

I had a choice between that session and the one being held at our school. We had someone come in and talk about "7 Things Your School-Agers Wished You Knew About Them". She touched on similar things as your speaker.

Karen said...

Ah the wet blanket. The phrases or things we tell our kids (or people) that they cannot do or that they are not good at because a wet blanket that weighs them down over time. It is recorded in a tape in their mind and they will forever remember it. Oh I could talk to you a lot about this.

I work on Bill to not yell (ie raise his voice) so much with Braeden because it accomplishes NOTHING. I've gotten him to ignore many of Braedens scretching and yelling "I can't do it" because the truth is he can. He keeps yelling and trying at the same time and then gets it. I tell him "see I knew you could do it".