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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Love Don't Cost a Thing

There are many stories about kids with busy parents, where the parents keep on buying their kids more and more expensive gifts to try to buy the kids' love, but nothing is good enough for the kids, because it turns out that what they want isn't things, they just want to feel loved...

It seems that in today's world, when there is a problem, people like to throw money at it, thinking that money solves everything. Buy something for someone sad, spend money on this specialist and that specialist, etc... Bottom line being, if you have enough money, you're able to make any problem go away, and if you don't have money, you're out of luck.

I don't believe that.

When a problem comes up, I try to see how it can be solved without money, and when its an interpersonal problem, many times I find it doesn't need anything other than attention and love.


We had a lot of behavioral issues with one of our kids. People were telling me that I need to send this kid to school, ideally a special school, because I was pampering this kid too much, and I needed school to toughen up this kid and knock sense into him. That the only way I would straighten this kid out was via lots of therapy. That my "attachment parenting" was messing him up.

I was wondering if they were right. Maybe a firmer hand was all that was needed?
But what if sending him off to school would mean that he would be even more difficult during the time that he was home? What if what he needed wasn't time away from Mommy, but more time with Mommy, more focused attention?

Because it made sense to me, I decided to keep him home and focus on showering him with love, bonding with him... and "miraculously" the behavioral issues got much better, and he no longer is that clingy, difficult kid, but a lovable and loving young boy.
No money thrown at it, no official treatment, just love.

Love and attention makes a big difference in a kid's behavior. When a kid feels good about himself, much easier when he feels loved, he usually will act decently, but when he is feeling bad about himself, he misbehaves, because he thinks he's not able to do any better because he's "bad", and will often try to misbehave to get negative attention, because that's all the attention he feels he deserves.

Recently, I've been very busy, juggling a thousand things at once, and my kids, unfortunately, were paying for it. They were misbehaving a lot, doing things they'd never done before... and I realized that something needed to be done.

While disciplining them severely might possibly have had the desired effect, (I was already disciplining for each individual thing) I wanted to get to the underlying reason why they were acting that way, because otherwise I'd be treating the symptom, not the cause.

My guess? They were feeling ignored, that I wasn't paying enough attention to them. They admitted that to me as well, without my prompting.

So yesterday, I decided that we needed some intense treatment. A "Mommy pampering" day. A day full of love and fun, where I ignore everything else that I need to get done, and just focus on them, doing things with them, making good experiences with them, and work on building their confidence. Again, because kids who feel good about themselves act better.

I decided to work first with Lee, because I noticed that Ike likes to follow Lee's lead, and if Lee is behaving, Ike will usually as well.

Lee has been riding a bike with training wheels for a while already. I knew he'd be able to ride without training wheels already, but he'd been saying that he only thinks he'll be able to do so when he's 6 years old.

If Lee could learn how to ride a two wheeler with no training wheels already at the age of 5.5, (especially when none of his friends were), I knew he'd feel amazing about himself and his capabilities, and it would give that extra confidence boost that I felt was necessary at this point in time.

Well, Lee was off like a champ- he barely had me help him ride. He wobbled a bit, then steadied a bit, crashed a bit, etc... but 15 minutes after first trying to ride with no training wheels, he managed to ride long distances without falling or crashing...

So I took him down to a basketball court/soccer field where he was able to ride and ride and practice and get even better, and then I focused on Ike, teaching him how to play soccer, and as he made more and more "goals", he felt great about himself.

We then foraged some stuff together, and then the boys helped me cook a yummy lunch, after which we read many stories together until Mike got home from work.

The goal of spending loving time with the boys, to remind them just how much I love them and love spending time with them, to help them do things that they didn't know they could do so they would feel proud of themselves and confident and "grown up".... Well, it seems to have worked.

For the past 2 days, no misbehavior, and they're happier and more confident and even more enjoyable to be around...

Gotta schedule more of these "intense Mommy days" into my busy schedule, since I see how much loving affects kids, not to mention me as well.

And love don't cost a thing.

Have you ever had issues with your kids that you dealt with via being extra loving, and spending extra time with them? Did it work? Or are you of the opinion that its best to toughen up kids and not coddle them too much?

11 comments:

  1. It is sweet how involved you are with your children, just make sure they do have the ability to self regulate themselves without you. If you do not feel like school is right for them perhaps a summer camp or other event where they experience an extended time without you. My Husband is from a large family who were all homeschooled. The ones who experienced several school-like experiences have all become more successfull and emotionally mature as adults than those who didn't.

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    1. Thanks!
      I am not sure if I mentioned it before, but I sent my kids to summer camp last year and plan on sending them again this summer. They're also with me in the morning/until their friends get home from school, but from 2:30 and onward they're usually playing at friends' houses, etc... so they are used to being without me. They're actually quite independent!

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    2. There's no such thing as spoiling your kids with too much time and attention. :)

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  2. I so agree. My kids act up a lot when I'm too busy -- and also if I'm in a bad mood or if we're always on the go. They need a lot of unstructured time.

    When I feel like I haven't been paying them enough attention, the solution is simple: I have a "yes" day. When they ask me to do something or play something, I say yes. They take the lead and pick the games, but I try not to put them off. It usually means lots and lots of books get read, I get "help" with all my cooking, and I spend a lot of the day outside. Turns out when I listen to them right away, they're better at listening to me right away.

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  3. I'm confused. If you're homeschooling them, what does your day normally look like? Why aren't you spending time with theme every day?

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  4. No such thing as spoiling your kids with time and attention. :)

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  5. I think a lot of people ascribe "phases" to behavioral issues these days, and that if you just stick it out long enough, the problem will usually resolve itself. It might take a little longer than is optimal, but kids aren't one-size-fits-all. Of course, this assumes that the problem is actually a phase and not a serious developmental issue, but only time will tell. On the other hand, if it is a serious developmental issue, and treatment or time with a specialist can mitigate the damage and allow the child to live a normal life, I think it'd be egotistical to the point of cruelty for a parent to force a child to do without, just because the parent thinks that they can do better. Time and patience have their place, but there shouldn't be any stigma attached to treatment, either.

    My six-month-old is going through a clingy phase right now--he's also starting to become more mobile and last night actually squirmed off of his bed (he sleeps on a mattress on the floor, so he didn't fall anywhere). I think once he begins to realize that he can move on his own and that includes moving to wherever Mommy is, he'll get over it, so I've decided to indulge him and hold him

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  6. This is a very important idea, and you explained it really well. I like how you used your special loving day to encourage your child in a skill that boosts his independence.

    I've been employed outside the home all my son's life (he's 8) and always had some significant volunteer commitments, but my dad had similar time constraints when I was little and still managed to keep me feeling loved and cared for--so I follow his example. Bedtime is a special time of connection for Nicholas and me, when I read to him for at least half an hour, we pray together, and we talk a bit. I also walk him to school every morning, and we sing a song each day and then either talk or I tell him a story of my childhood. I only skip these times if I'm very sick or if a meeting or appointment conflicts--maybe twice a month. I also make a point of talking with my son most of the time when we happen to be together, even if we are working on something simultaneously; I try to resist the temptation to zone out or to push him away so I can do it faster.

    Connecting with him does encourage his good behavior, and it certainly has a better effect on him than buying him stuff and trying to get him to go play with it and leave me alone!

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    1. Becca, I think you make a great point about quality time. My husband works long hours but we make a special point to spend un distracted time together as a family. IT makes all the difference in the overall happiness of our home:)

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  7. sounds like a wonderful day. did you take the baby along? If so, did that break your focus on the boys?

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  8. I think you did a great job, but I also think you should have a balance between the tough love and the cuddly and very swwet one. They shouldn't get used to you being all nice and dandy at anytime because you may have a bad day once and despite your efforts to hide it, it will show and it's a posibility that they will think it's their fault or something like it. Balance is the key.

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