Tag Archives: positivism

Accentuating the Positive


Poor Philip.  Being 4 can be rough sometimes.  Lots of rules.  Lots of expectations.  Lots of emotions.

Sometimes, his emotions erupt like a volcano.  I understand.  I feel that way sometimes and I am still a work in progress on “turning the wheel” and keeping my emotions under control.  Today, in fact, I felt a rumbling of anger when he had drenched himself with the rainwater (irresistible!) while I walked the dog.  I had this big plan.  It was a cloudy day so we were going to relocate some of the 4′ x 4′ garden beds from the back garden and put them in the front garden.  But, a soaked child in cool, persistent wind is no good and I was not in the mood to dress him in fresh clothes, stick his feet in plastic bags to allow him to wear his sodden boots and layer him in a fleece and a windbreaker since his winter coat was dripping.  It was so disappointing.  We were going to be EXCAVATORS!  We were going to unearth these beds and haul them.  He was going to get wonderfully worn out and I was going to tackle a chore.  But, it drained me.  I lacked the reserve to be resilient about it.  We went in.  I removed all of the wet items, made sure he was warm and dry and relocated myself to make a bed while he listened to Poetry Speaks to Children in the kitchen and read along with the book.

As I made the bed, I argued with myself about whether or not this was a major big deal (not really) or just a learning opportunity (probably) and what I could do about it (get calm, move forward).

When I got downstairs, he was still listening to poetry, and I was still feeling pretty negative.  So, I grabbed a notebook and a pen and just started writing.  I sat on the chair near the window (trying not to think about all of the seeds that I have not yet planted) and I got my mood back in order after about 2 paragraphs (I wasn’t given much time for more).  He came up with some games to play, we had book-and-a-snack on the chair a bit later, then enjoyed reading the graphic novel version of The Little Prince over dinner.  Afterwards, he had a fabulous splash fest in the bath followed by a bedtime book, then lights out.

As I gave Philip his bedtime hugs and kisses, I told him how much he helped me get chores done (he helped me vacuum and he helped me clean dishes), how hard he worked on controlling his emotions (He and I worked on a list together.  For example, “When I get angry, I will stop and think quietly.”), how gentle he was with the dog (lots of pets and a reminder to brush the dog’s teeth) and so on.

He was grinning ear to ear.  He even said he was blushing.

As Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish point out in How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Kids Will Talk, lecturing, preaching and harping about mistakes are ineffective motivators for positive change.  When the situation has passed, when the milk has been spilled, when the brains (both the parents’ and the child’s) are back in normal mode, it’s time to talk about ways to do things differently.  It can be really hard.  Parenting is a selfless act, but not all parents are selfless (nor, I think, should they be).  But, having faith and trust, leaning on patience and collective plans really can help ease the burden on all in the family.




This afternoon, Bruce, Philip and I went to a local production of “Seussical.”  We had a great time.  One of the songs, “How Lucky You Are,” reminds us to frame our situations in a positive perspective.  A good reminder.

On the days when I have to force myself to recognize that I’m lucky to have a house with heat, lucky to have food in the refrigerator, lucky to have a family that I love, etc., I do think, “Will there be a day when I can aim a little higher maybe?  How about lucky to have a college fund for my kid, lucky to have retirement for my husband and I, lucky to be debt free, lucky to travel around the world?”  Or, is that just being greedy?

Whatever the case, we had fun watching the performers sing and dance.  Philip commented on the drive home that the show was way longer than “The LEGO Movie” and that his “butt started to hurt.”  That made us laugh out loud.

It’s another cold night here and I read that there is no more snow (lucky) projected this upcoming week.  We have plans to go to The Field Museum for Member’s Night (lucky) and visit relatives and spend a couple of nights at their house (lucky).  Philip will probably also play a lot of LEGOs with his uncle (lucky).  The housesitter is available to come while we are gone (lucky).

Tonight, I am going to prep for classes by taking a break and reading a book for pleasure (lucky).  I just started Natalie Angier’s The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science.  While I am not sure I am in her target market (I feel I am scientifically literate and inclined, but I don’t have a job in the sciences and would never consider myself an expert), I think it is worth a read.  She gets a bit more leeway because I enjoyed her book Woman: An Intimate Geography.

Sometimes, when your brain isn’t ready to work, it’s a good idea to step aside and let your brain do something else.  Then, when it has regrouped a bit, you can ask it to jump to the task and expect it to be a bit more receptive to the idea.  On that note, I will sign off and hope that my respite leads to class activity epiphanies.  Until tomorrow, be well.