Monday, August 20, 2012

Bath-time Discipline

Over the years, I've been working on disciplining my 4 children effectively. This is a major challenge for any parent and it is a work in progress. New situations arise and new challenges must be met. I certainly find it difficult to be clear, calm and reasonable when disciplining.
Today my 7 year old Arielle was taking a bath. She loves to use my bathtub because its width allows her to practice swimming, dunk her head and play. I have convinced/enticed Arielle to take a bath in my bathroom by reminding her of these benefits when one of her siblings wants to use the children's bathtub. I am more than happy to share with my kids and I do not make my bedroom exclusive. At the same time, I expect them to maintain the dignity of our home and leave the room as I left it (even if it's not the neatest room in the house).
Tonight Arielle was playing in the tub while I was putting Tzvi (3yo) to bed. When I came out, my bathroom was practically flooded, the floor and bathmat soaked, and Arielle was splashing the mirrors.
I have learned (mostly from my very-smart-first-grade-teacher sister-in-law, Michelle) that punishments and consequences need to be tied to the action. So, I told Arielle she had to come out of the bath immediately. No soap, no shampoo or conditioner. She lost her bath completely. I explained that I don't share my bathroom with kids who are not responsible enough to use it properly. She knew that what she was doing was wrong. At first she was extremely upset but then she realized she had no recourse as this was not what was expected of her.
I am proud to say that the consequence was clear. I carried through and I think I got the message across.
What would you do? Comments and advice welcome!

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Kids in HD 2

Here is one of my absolute favorite pictures of my kids. Yes, I got them all looking at my fabulous new camera and the shot is sweet and unique.
Who needs professional photo shoots? I'll frame this one!
What do you think?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"Voicing" My Opinion

This past weekend, I lost my voice. I arrived home from work Wednesday evening with fully functional vocal chords.
Within 10 minutes, my voice was scratchy and barely audible. I knew I was coming down with a cold and it was affecting my throat.
What I didn't know was that I would only be able to whisper for 2 1/2 days and that I would learn several important life lessons from this experience.
LESSON 1: It feels terrible to be part of a conversation or in an environment where you cannot just respond and be heard. Talking in a whisper limits participation in active conversation. When my brain wanted to respond, I was unable to be included. I was able to comprehend a fraction of what it would feel like to be mute (or an Avox for Hunger Games fans). It's torture!
LESSON 2: Without language and tone, we are unable to express ourselves properly. My voice lost its tone completely so it was impossible to express my emotions - I could be sad, angry, annoyed, happy, pleased, etc. but no one could tell. Luckily, I had body language to compensate. This was hard for my kids to read and appreciate such that my son had a total meltdown when I whispered to him that I was late and couldn't help him get dressed in the morning.
That leads me right into LESSON 3: Moms without authoritative voices = unnerved children. Somehow my being sick and unable to help, explain, guide and support really affected their behavior.
LESSON 4: I finally understand toddlers who lack language skills but feel the need to express themselves. I constantly tell my kids there is no reason to hurt and that they should use their words when upset or frustrated. Without my voice, there were times when I was so frustrated that I felt the need to use my hands to express myself. I had to refrain from responding that way, which took a lot of self-control that a young child obviously does not have.
LESSON 5: When I whispered, people around me responded in kind. My children kept a low volume as did coworkers! I kept repeating myself to friends and family: "YOU don't have to whisper, I have to!" This refrain made me realize that using my "indoor" voice would produce a more calm environment in my home. I see the opposite effect in my office all the time. When one person is loud or giddy it spreads throughout the workplace.
LESSON 6: Treasure what you have, even the small things! You don't value your voice until it's missing. Thank G-d every day that our bodies work and that we are able to express ourselves. I am able to show my kids how much I love them with my songs, stories, instructions, and everyday informal lessons. I can share my experiences with others in a fun, humorous way, or describe what I saw on my way to work. I can speak on the phone with my husband, mother, friend, or even my boss. I can show loving-kindness and support with a few words.
LESSON 7: I can use my virtual voice to share these important insights with you.
As always, thank you for listening!
Come again!