Thursday, June 9, 2011

Energy and parenting

For the first time in ages, and by ages, I mean and years and by years I mean since before Avalon was born, I have boundless energy. I have naturally always been a tired person. I think in my late teens and early 20's it was a combination of an unchecked thyroid, lots of college credits and 20-30 hours of work on top of it. Thats enough to wear anyone out.

But even after I graduated, I was always completely capable of needing and taking a nap. And sleeping past 11? A common weekend occurence..

Then Avalon was born and tired took on a whole new meaning. But early on I was such a nervous wreck that I couldn't sleep due to the anxiety, increasing my exhaustion even more. Yet as she grew and began to sleep better so did I but that did nothing to squash my need for rest. Up until a month or so ago, I took at least a small catnap (or more) during Avalon's quiet time.

But something in the last month/month and a half, has changed. I haven't taken one nap. Having even tried a couple times when Avalon asked me to lay down with her, I still couldn't even fall sleep. In fact I can't hardly fall asleep at night. To remedy the problem, I've been going to bed later, much much later. Like, 130 in the morning later. I'm still awaking with Avalon which has been around 8-9 in the morning and I feel completely rested.

It's truly amazing to have this much energy to get things done, play with Avalon, exercise etc.

And its a good thing I have all this energy because lately Avalon has been requiring more than usual. Avalon typically is a very well behaved polite little girl who with a little reason can usually be talked through any issues that arise. However in the last couple weeks, she as developed a few little behaviours that have been driving me crazy. And, as I spend all day with her, a little goes a long way.

She has begun to get very frustrated when she plays or does art projects. SHe gets mad if she can't do something the way she thinks it should be done and then starts growling, crying and/or throwing whatever she is doing.

She also has taken to rolling her eyes at me when she doesn't like my suggestions that are opposite to what she thinks. SHe also gets a sulky face on, stiffens her arms and marches away. She has even taken to hitting.

Oh the three year old drama! Maybe if she gets it out now, we can avoid it during the teenage years? Wishful thinking I know.

Disciplining is something I try to stay consistent with but I really watch myself because I was raised by parents who overdisciplined and the consequences almost never matched the infraction. Some battles are not worth picking.

So late last week and early this week, Avalon had several time outs which is fate worse than death for her. She starts crying hysterically but nows she can't get out of time out until she has completely stopped crying.

By Monday though it was obvious that time outs were not fixing the problem. So after a rough morning yesterday with yet another time out, I decided to switch methods.

After quiet time, when we always snuggle together, we had a little talk about what makes one another happy. It makes me happy when Avalon uses her manners, is polite, voices her frustrations and uses her listeners. It makes Avalon happy when I'm happy and not frustrated.

We discussed asking for help when she's frustrated, that it is not okay to ignore me. If she wants me to pay attention to her, she has to pay attention to me. It is polite to listen to one another and that we can be a team. The talk was finished with our signature fist bump and a hug.

Then I proceeded to kill her with kindness. I reinforced every behavior that was positive, even adding a sticker to her sticker chart that afternoon. Then today I continued and slowly less and less required me to constantly encourage her to do the right thing. She used her manners, did what I asked of her the first time and was a very pleasant child. This afternoon when we got out of the car after running errands, I told her how proud I was of her for doing so well and said I loved being a team with her as my teammate and she raised her little fist for our fist bump. And she even earned 2 more stickers today earning her a small prize.

The moral of the story folks? In my experience, you catch more flies with honey. That is not stay she won't get in trouble and I'll let things slide because a child needs to know what they can and cannot do and you have to be consistent. But rewarding and recognizing positive behavior is sure bet in getting more positive behavior. She hits again, instant time out. There is no tolerance for that(I always ask her if I can hit her, and she of course says no and then I reason with her that she can't hit me either and that makes sense to her) But in my experience as a parent, all negative consequences makes for a negative mood and attitude. Reinforce the positive!

And thankfully, I've got the energy to do it all. But it's two and even though I'm not really tired, I "know" that I should go to bed.

But by

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