My son love his "guys." He had little Star Wars guys and big G.I Joe guys. He loves them especially when he can take their clothes on and off, and change their outfits. It is often frustrating because his little six year old fingers have a hard time pulling those pants off and getting them back on again... Many times, a limb, or a hand, or a foot will come off with the clothes. I know when it happens because the howl I hear from my son is a special one he uses only in these moments...
I curse the companies that make these dolls when I hear Ian's cry...
I know that they are just crappy made-in-China toys with no chance against the strength of a child, but Ian is crushed every time one of these guys loses a body part. He believes his guy is "ruined". I spend time trying to convince him that there are solutions - "Daddy can fix it, maybe some hot glue?"
"Noooooo!!!! He won't be the same!!!! He's ruined!!!"
It really is painful.
Enter the Justin Beiber doll.
Ian used his own money to buy this guy off the internet. He came with a small skateboard, a microphone and an outfit. Poke him in the belly button and he sings a song... Ian loves Justin Beiber and he loves guys, so you can only imagine how he felt when this fella showed up in the mail!
Fast forward to today. I was putting something away in Rowans room, and Ian was playing with his guys in his room. All of a sudden I heard it. The howl. Almost animal like. I knew what happened before I saw it. J-Beib lost a limb... Right at the knee, his leg had snapped.
Oh no, I thought to myself, here we go...
I looked at Ian. I watched the crocodile tears pouring out of his eyes. Then, I did something different. Instead of offering up a bunch of suggestions, reasons why it wasn't a s bad as he thought, I hugged him. I held him close to me and kept my mouth closed.
"What can we do, mom?" He asked as he pulled away.
"I'm not sure babe..." I said. Then I held out my arms again and he came in for some more love and sympathy. I held on to him and let him have his disappointment, his sadness...
The next time he pulled away he looked up and said, with a teary voice, "Maybe we could tape it? The it could be like he has a cast? We could use electrical tape..."
"Okay," I replied, "Let's give it a try."
Ian found the tape and I went to work. I wrapped and wrapped and wrapped that sucker up. The top of his leg down to to his foot is wrapped in black electrical tape. I used enough in the middle so that it is actually pretty solid. When I was done Ian smiled, and took him back into his room. He is now fully clothed and you can't even tell he has an injury...
We talk a lot about encouragement in Positive Discipline, often in comparison to praise. Parents who take my classes practice descriptive encouragement - I noticed that you cleaned your room, appreciative encouragement -thank you for helping with the dishes, it made my morning a lot easier, and empowering encouragement -
I love you and have faith that you can solve your problem.
Parents are challenged to look for times throughout the day to offer up encouragement to their children.
My friend and mentor, Jody McVittie, has taught me a new way of thinking about encouragement. She defines the root word, courage, as the motion we take in the direction of becoming our best selves. I love this idea... We are courageous when we take action in the direction of being our best selves.
So, she goes on to say, if courage is motion toward becoming our best self, ENCOURAGEMENT is the space we make for another human being to take that step into their best self.
Let me say that again, encouragement is the space we make for another human being to take that step into their best self. This is so different than knowing what to say when our child has done something well - this is a way of
Today, when JBs leg snapped, I could have rushed over, anxious to make Ian "feel better" - instead I created space for him to be his best self. In this space, he was allowed his feelings, his disappointment was recognized. And because I kept my mouth shut, he had the space to come up with a solution, one he valued because it was his own.
I use lots of parenting tools throughout my days. I listen without fixing, I use curiosity questions, I take time for training, but it is this new idea of encouragement that is rocking my parenting world. Thinking about creating the space for my children to be their best selves really resonates with me. And it is really teaching my kids about their own worth and capabilities.
Let me know how it works for you!
Smiles ~ Casey