I haven’t been myself lately and it shows through my patience level, the words I speak, how I respond, and more pressing, how my children are behaving. Granted I laughed my butt off when I was innocently recorded my one year old, who smeared chocolate pudding all over her freshly washed hair and face, and captured my three year old yelling in the background “What the Fuck!” I was shocked and highly amused at the same time. I’m not going to lie, I laughed my ass off. But, once it settled in, I realized she repeated that phrase because that was how I had been speaking throughout the week. Not my normal patient, high pitched mom voice. Lately every single thing had me on edge. And it showed. When momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy! This house was drowning! Bless my husbands heart, I was picking on him too. Everyone could get it at this point. So judgement free zone! We all slip up sometimes. But just as I tell my girls, “What happens when we fall down?” “We get back up!”
All children are different, we know that. All parents use different methods, this we do know as well. From my experience, these methods have helped my household, and I would love to share them and create dialogue from parent to parent. Positive reinforcement goes a LONG way in this house. Complimenting my girls reinforces the behavior I’m addressing and builds their self-esteem. It can be the simplest task or act. Watching one of the girls share a toy they were initially playing with, “What good sisters, how sweet of you to share” By repeating this positive reinforcement behavior, I often observe my girls interacting, and notice them saying this to each other. “thank you for sharing Khassy, you are a good sister” Umm way better than “What the fuck!” Simpy repeating positive mantras such as “good job” “why are you so smart?” “How did you know how to do that, what a big girl you are” makes a huge impact on their little worlds. Show them love and what love looks like. Kissing and hugging your spouse. Kissing and hugging your children, clapping and smiling when they show love and affection. Nothing feels better than your toddler hugging your leg, random kisses, and out of nowhere “I love you’s” Learned behavior! Nurtured behavior. Let them see it, show it, do it, and they will live it.
My husband works long hours, weekends, days, nights, so the girls don’t always see him on a consistent basis. So I make it a point to create the dialogue, create the excitement, encourage the love. As soon as he walks through the door I am yelling “Daddy is home! Yay! Look its dada!” They can feel the love and excitement and they follow course. Are they already obsessed with their father, no doubt. Forget who carried and birthed them, he is the sun, moon, and stars. But reinforcing that is wonderful. Kids love to repeat what is going on, you can never have secrets with toddlers, they will snitch in a hot minute. So when my girls come to me and repeat something like “Dada made me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich” (when they were supposed to eat their chicken and veggies) I will reply “oh, wow, what a sweet dada, he loves you so much.” I promise these little sayings help nurture the brain and heart.
Using playtime is the easiest way to reinforce rules and good behavior. Even bigger, engage in conversation with your kids. I have noticed by listening to their stories, they are expressing their thoughts, asking for help, learning what we have taught them, and resolving issues. I can hear our day to day dialogue repeated in their imaginative stories. We are building bonds. Creating safe spaces. Reminding them that they can always come to mommy and daddy and talk to us about anything. Ask some open-ended questions and I guarantee you will notice they are paying attention to what is going on around them. They are soaking it all in. This will remind you what kind of world you are creating around them. This world is already tough enough, mean enough, critical enough. We have enough bullies, mean girls, racist to go around. Allow your home to be their and your own sanctuary. A safe place full of love, encouragement, positivity, and freedom.