Small steps was the perfect tool card for this week. My almost 5-year-old son started kindergarten and, as much as I don’t agree with it, he was given homework. I really struggled with this for the first few days for several reasons. First, isn’t 7 hours each day enough time to teach them?
Second, he was napping for almost two hours a day in preschool less than a month ago. (Thank Goodness we live 20 minutes from school so he can fall asleep.)
My biggest frustration is that I miss him all day while he’s at school and then I find us battling about homework instead of enjoying family time. Even though I know better, I was bribing, threatening, praising and then wanting to reward him just to trace and color his alphabet letters. Then I remembered this very simple and powerful Positive Discipline tool on Small Steps.
I sat next to him and shared that my writing was really sloppy and that I wanted to relearn my letters to look like his. My sons face lit up. I asked him if I could have my own homework that could be just like his? He loved this idea and was quick to say, “Sure Mom!”
I started practicing my A’s while he practiced his. I believe that he felt connected, and encouraged to do his. When he started getting side tracked I asked if he could go over my work? He said, “Sure Mom!” He then started demonstrating and comparing my work to his. It melted my heart when he would quote me with words of encouragement I have used with him in the past such as, “Way to go Mom,” and, “You must be so proud of yourself.”
Another way we practice “small steps” is when brushing his teeth. Sometimes I will use a small step by saying, “You brush the top while I brush the bottom.” This works every time because I believe he’s feeling the connection and the encouragement. Another small step is having him help me pack his lunch. I have him choose which part of his lunch he’d like to pack? He has the choice to put his fruit and crackers in the bags or to make his sandwich. I love how we are working so much side by side as a team helping one another rather than fighting and going through daily power struggles; which I’ve experience several times when I’m NOT practicing Positive Discipline.
You may have noticed how so many of the tools are used in combination with other tools. For example, Connection and Encouragement were essential parts of Small Steps.
Small steps turned out to be big steps when I realized how they eliminated all the extra steps involved in power struggles, temper tantrums, disconnect and me feeling like a mean mommy. Taking small steps is so much more rewarding!
I often wonder why I ever parent without using these PD tools I know so well? Then I’m reminded by my mom or myself: “Oh yeah, it’s because you’re not a perfect parent, and you’re a human being.” Thank goodness I have PD to teach me the skills to recover from my mistakes, and to constantly remember that “Mistakes are Wonderful Opportunities to Learn!“