Let me paint a picture for you. It’s Monday morning and it’s time to wake the kids up and get ready for school. I wake up the eight-year-old with no problem but my five-year-old is already grumpy because she allegedly never went to sleep! She keeps laying around as soon as I take my eyes off of her and/or whines because it just seems appropriate. I am trying to get myself dressed, make sure the oldest is doing what she needs to do, while still trying to manage the already emotional five-year-old. I am getting more and more frustrated with each tear and scream that is coming from my little sleepy head because I have a schedule to keep if I want to get to work on time. I am screaming for her to calm down and guess what? She only begins to cry even more and that isn’t exactly helpful at this moment. I scream even more to the point where I now feel crazy inside. Now both girls are crying because mommy is being a nut and they are feeling bad because they “made me do it.” I begin to feel guilty for making them feel this way and then apologize for how I acted. This was our mornings, many days. This was a cycle that we started without even realizing it. This was the beginning of the chaos that they would have to deal with later on in life. This was a re-enactment of what I experienced as a child and I remember how it felt and I hated it.
I knew that I had to do something different if I wanted our outcome to be different. When we all became emotional, we forgot to deal with the real issue at hand. They couldn’t hear the message I was trying to deliver through all of the static of me screaming. It was at this time that a program called Conscious Discipline was being implemented at the title I school that I worked at. This program, created by Dr. Becky Bailey, helps parents and educators create environments where healthy relationships can flourish and children become voluntarily cooperative. As I learned how this program could be used in the classroom, I realized that it would be equally beneficial, if not more, with my own children. One thing that really stuck out to me was the idea that the behaviors that we tend to focus on most, are the behaviors we get more of. For example, when I fussed at my child to stop crying, she only cried more. I didn’t focus on what I really wanted her to do which was to calm down and use her words, so she didn’t.
As I began my conscious discipline journey, my first task was to become more aware of myself and gain more self control. I began reading the book, Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Dr. Becky Bailey, in which, she discusses the Seven Powers of Self Control. She suggests that parents who grasped the concept of self control are better able to teach children how to communicate thoughts and feelings in acceptable ways, understand the perspective of the child as well as self, celebrate the successes and choices children make, hold children accountable
for what they are being taught and focus on what they want the child to accomplish (Bailey, 2000, pg.28). . I realized that as much as I stressed the importance of self-control with my children, I wasn’t exactly modeling that behavior for them. I couldn’t offer loving guidance because I was still trying to make them do what I wanted them to do instead of using these moments of conflict as opportunities to teach. When I yelled out of anger, they didn’t feel safe or loved which is what they ultimately needed in order to fully comprehend the message I was trying to send.
Out of the seven powers that I needed to become an expert on, the first on my list was definitely the Power of Perception. The Power of Perception suggests, “No one can make you angry without your permission” (Bailey, 2000). Over and over again, I would let the actions and behaviors of others dictate the mental state I was in. I blamed everyone else but it was me who gave them permission. I had to change the way I thought about the situations that occurred if I wanted to change my negative emotions to more positive ones. As situations began to arise, as they always do, I would tell myself, “Breathe. I can handle this. I can choose to be patient and understanding”. The more I repeated positive affirmations to myself, the better I felt. Personally, I was surprised! Surprised that by changing the way you think, really changes your whole mood. I felt the difference and my kids did too! As I continued reading my book, I realized that I was becoming angry with my children because our mornings weren’t working out according to the vision I had in my mind and I felt powerless. In reality, my perception of how things should happen interfered with my ability to live in the moment and embrace what was actually happening.
As a result, I became a little more creative with how we started our day. Instead of hoping that when I called their name to wake up, they would bounce up with joy, I began to give them choices and make it into a game. Let me just say, none of this would be possible without my daily cup of coffee and meditation time. When it was time to wake the girls, I would let them choose how they wanted to get out of bed either by their feet or their hands. Surprisingly, they loved this and would both giggle when it was their turn. My oldest loved when I gently pulled her out of bed by her feet all the way to the bathroom and my youngest loved to walk on her hands! It became our routine and created much more joy in the morning! At this point, our mornings are not yet perfect but a million times calmer and peaceful than before. Stay tuned for more as I dig deeper into Conscious Discipline and share my journey with you all!!
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