Friday, April 22, 2011

Parenting class recap: up to now

Tonight I was trying to go over everything in my head that we are working on implementing in our family in terms of what Matt and I are learning in our parenting class. It feels extremely overwhelming-- which it actually is, not just my perception. It's all being dumped on us all in a very short amount of time because that is the nature of the class.

Here is where we are at:

  • One-on-one playtime. Ideally I would do this most, if not all, days of the week with each girl for 15-30 minutes. How am I doing? Well the first three weeks I had to actually turn in a record of our playtime. How long we played, who I played with, what we played, how I felt about it and how the girl felt. I am seriously chart motivated, so once I no longer had to fill all that empty space in, I basically stopped doing it. Well, it's not as awful as it sounds, I LOVE the playtime, but every day seems to go flying by before I realize that, yet again, we didn't get to it. Our instructor reminds us that if nothing else, keep going back to the "play and praise" which means this part and the next part . . .

  • Lots of praising every day. Recognize what I see that I like and appreciate in my children. I have better and worse days remembering it, but overall am doing better. Again, we started out logging praise, but no longer do. Logging works well for me.

  • Praising and appreciating myself and my husband every day. I do terrible at this. I never, ever remember. Praising myself and my partner is fantastic modelling and an overall fantastic feel-good thing to do.

  • Eliminate negative generalizations. 100% spot on have done this. I am really proud of this one. I can't say I did it a ton before the class, but it was something I was able to cut out completely.

  • Focus on steps towards improvement. I haven't done a great job recognizing this. It is hard for me to tell the girls they did a great job not hitting when they screamed at their sister, instead. Yes, the screaming is a step in the right direction, but still upsetting all the same.

  • Create positive stories about my children. I haven't done this at all. It basically means I need to find ways the girls have improved their behavior and then use it to tell stories later about what amazing things they have done. I can barely think in the present let alone look back to the past or ahead to the future.

  • Ignoring. This may seem like it's easy, but it isn't, at least for me. We have learned the technique of ignoring certain undesirable behaviors in our children in the expectation (or at least hope) that the child will stop doing it if it doesn't get attention. I have let Iris know I will be ignoring her when she starts on her tirade of name calling. It has worked the two times I had cause to use it.

  • Use tangible rewards/sticker charts. It took me about a week to really wrap my head around how to use this with the girls and I think that Matt and I came up with a good way to attempt it. At the family meeting tonight Matt and I told the girls about it and they reacted quite positively. Of course, we dangled some monster carrots in front of them, so that probably didn't hurt. Now we need to put it in to action, which I am seriously dreading. We are working on a behavior that needs attention every moment the girls are together (hurting each other's bodies) not just something like morning routines or bedtime routines or mealtimes so it's going to be a lot of work.

  • Take better care of myself. This part I started doing before the class, thank goodness, because I never would have found the energy after! I am still doing a workout 5-6 days per week and am using (surprise surprise) a log to help keep my eating on track.

  • Keep an anger log for myself. You know the number one way to get me to cool my anger? By telling me I have to write about it each time I lose my temper. I swear, every time I started getting heated up I pictured my anger log. I didn't want to have write about the stupid thing I freaked out at the girls over. (Crumbs on the couch again?!?! ARGHHH!FREAK OUT!)

  • Keep an anger log for the girls. This is brand new to add for this week. I can't even picture myself finding the energy to do this.

  • Work on good listening and speaking skills with all members of my family. Um, some people take whole classes about this topic. I should know, I have taken several. In college. Wish I could say I was an olympic level communicator but I am so NOT.

  • Express feelings in words to model for the girls. The only feeling I seem to be awesome at expressing is "I AM FRUSTRATED!" But hey, it keeps me from freaking out, right? Working on expanding my repertoire.

  • Talk about identifying feelings with the girls. Last night I posted a picture at home of feeling words and corresponding cartoony pictures. So far today we have identified in the girls feelings of jealousy, frustration, and happiness. Not too shabby.

So that is most of it. I am sure I leaving out something, but this is what I remember. Keep in mind we have only done five of eight classes. Oh, how this list will grow! Sometimes it feels like I pretty much just have to change everything and it gets overwhelming.

Matt and I, however, have both noticed things are really starting to change. It is far from perfect, but perfection isn't our goal. Iris is screaming less, overall. Hurting her sister less, overall. Using her words so much more. Working out problems more easily. Giving everyone in the family compliments and appreciations and apologies, when necessary. We are definitely still working on controlling angry impulses, but we're getting there.


  1. Perhaps you need to decide to take a log back up for play time and such, at least on the things that you feel are important.

    I do well with logging things, too, but at the same time it can be such a time commitment, especially if you enjoy cataloging data as I do!

    I'm so glad you're seeing improvement and I look forward to seeing how you worked out the sticker thing.

  2. Just found some time to check out your blog - grateful to see that you're sorting through some similar stuff with the kids, but I think you're about 5 steps ahead of me.
    In the past 6 months the kids have starting fighting, like throwing punches or shrieking so loud I think my ear drums might shatter.
    I can already see that a sticker chart for behavior might help a lot. We've already started to praise each other, and try to get some one on one time each day with them, but it can be really hard on busy days.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing what you're learning!


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