Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Planning for the Next End of the World

Alrighty. Let's get right down to business. I am happy to report that after not having a tantrum free day in over a week, we haven't had a tantrum or meltdown since Sunday night! She had a GREAT day at daycare yesterday- even earning a bonus end of day treat because she cleaned up the playroom on her own. With the plan from yesterday's blog in place, we carried the positive momentum forward. Computers stayed closed. We stayed focused on the kids and upbeat in our interactions with them and each other. It took focus, concentration, and it was difficult at times. But it felt so good to be back on track. Now I just have to keep it going. One thing I've really been thinking about is the responsibility of change. For the past few weeks, as we have gotten caught up in life stress and gotten lazy in our parenting, I feel like I've been waiting for Teagan to make these big changes and suddenly be better. She knows what the good choices are and I just have to wait for her to grow up and take responsibility. Um, hello? She is 3 years and 7 months old! I am the one who has been working on making choices for 34 years! I am the one who has to set this example! It won't happen by itself. And the only way she is going to learn, the only way these lessons become a fundamental part of her being is if there is repetition of these principles and ideals. So we will work to make positive choices that keep everyone happy. We will work to make positive choices in our behavior when we are disappointed in the outcome or in being told no. As a parent, I will internally evaluate WHY I am saying no BEFORE I say it. Is it because I don't want to get up right now? Is it because I have something else in mind? Is it because it really isn't a good idea for that moment? If I am saying no for selfish, lazy parent reasons, I need to get over it. But what happens when Teagan acts out? When she shoves her brother? When she whines or pouts because she isn't getting her way? There are certainly going to be times that she simply can't have things the way she wants them. Sometimes she handles those situations well and I do give her praise for it. But sometimes... it's the end of the world. The screaming, the crying, the gasping, the absolute fit. What do I plan to do the next time she's in nuclear meltdown? Nuclear Meltdown From the Wiki article: Before the core of a nuclear reactor can melt, a number of events/failures must already have happened. Well that certainly applies!! Before Teagan's meltdowns occur, there is most certainly a series of events that lead up to it. The key is knowing those triggers, knowing how to side step them, helping her manage them. In the worst case scenario, the above-ground containment would fail at an early stage, ... or there could be a large hydrogen explosion or some other over-pressure event. We are certainly familiar with the over-pressure events! In the best case scenario, the reactor vessel would hold the molten material, ... limiting most of the damage to the reactor itself. And here comes the plan. I've said this before. But I struggle so deeply with my own anger when she has hit her meltdown point that it is hard to get over myself and do what is needed for her. ...hold the molten material... What has worked fabulously on 2 occasions is to hold Teagan close and tight and to calmly and quietly repeat near her ear... "Calm, quiet, in control." And when she starts to settle down, when the anger breaks and the tears are sadness... "I love you. Shhhhh. I've got you. I love you." ...limiting most of the damage to the reactor itself... By holding her and calming her, I can absorb the meltdown, I can take in the negativity and make it functional again. Because I am the Mom. Because I want to protect my child from these meltdowns, from feeling out of control, to guide her through it. So we will work to disengage the events/failures that can lead to a meltdown. We, Jeff and I, will focus on being tuned in to our kids. Keep the laptop closed until bedtime. On the floor, engaging in play with the kids rather than monitoring them, staying positive in our communications with each other and with the kids, staying actively involved in helping Teagan see where her choices are. And should the meltdown occur in spite of our best efforts, we will be reactor vessels who hold the molten material. Not yelling, not engaging in discussion, not focusing on the behavior choices that got us to that point. Focusing on getting the meltdown contained and controlled and then moving forward. Nuclear meltdowns... fizzling out.


Lynn Freeman said...

That's some awesome, powerful stuff Liz. Long gone are the days when parents just ignored or yelled and screamed and punished by throwing kids in their rooms until they were done. I never really believed that approach worked but I didn't have the resources (or maybe the patience?) to explore the whole tantrum thing enough to fix it when my boys were young. They were never prone to tantrums in public - in fact I don't think we ever had one, despite going everywhere with them. I just made it a rule that when they were out with us, they behaved and there didn't seem to be any ifs, ands or buts about it. So maybe I did do something right that I didn't know about. At any rate, I think it's awesome as a parent that you continue to explore yourself, the dynamics with Jeff and yourself and seek out the resources that will help you with this big puzzle. In the grand scheme of things, tantrums are a small part of Teagan's life, who she is, what she means and how she will be. But how you deal with them will form who she becomes and the relationship that will continue to develop over time. As always, I look forward to reading about all these things you deal with - I find it fascinating. Too bad it's a little late for me....I could have used your wisdom about 12 years ago LOL

Eternal Lizdom said...

:) Good to hear from you Lynn.

It's never to late. Maybe the things I share or come up with or try can't be applied to your own kids... but I bet they can be applied to other parts of life.

My goal is to raise my kids in the best way possible for them. And in the process, if I stay in tune and focused and continue to audit my own choices (modeling what I expect, eventually, from my kids), I get to be a better person for it.