Adults teach children in three important ways: The first is by example, the second is by example, the third is by example.~Albert Schweitzer
A few weeks ago, we discovered something at our house that has allowed us to diffuse a number of melt-downs. Just when we see one of the kids or ourselves start to lose it, we cry “Dance Break!” We take all the kids to the kitchen, crank up the stereo and rock out. It is amazing how much better we all feel after a dance break. We all are a little winded, and have forgotten why we were so upset in the first place. Depending on the time of day it can be helpful to get them to sleep too! I’ve been battling insomnia lately, but after 2 or three rounds of Dance Timeouts I have no problem passing out at the end of the day.
We discovered this quite by accident. I had given myself a time out when I become quite aggravated over my kids shenanigans, but instead of losing it, I walked away. I went to the kitchen and started washing dishes but first I put the stereo on. My favorite song came on and the next thing I know I was dancing. My kids came in to say “sorry” and saw me dancing, so they started too, soon we were all laughing and singing and dancing and then we all forgot those frustrating feelings. As an Attachment Parenting advocate I love this solution.
As parents we tend to revert to the stressing behaviors we grew up with. I can sometimes see myself model those behaviors and it scares me.
So, for me, the dance timeout works on so many levels. I get to be physical without hurting my kids. I get to model a behavior that I don’t mind them copying. So far it works for most melt-downs and arguments. Once we are all in a good place again, it makes it easier to talk about our feelings.
I’ve heard the argument that unless you “discipline” your children, they will never learn. But is that really so?
It’s so easy to laugh It’s so easy to hate It takes strength to be gentle and kind~The Smiths
I was raised in a home where I was always being told not to do as my parents did, but to do as they said. I’m sorry to say I was pretty bad at it. In fact I ended up doing exactly as they did. It’s hard as a child not to mirror what you see, that’s how they learn.
Am I perfect? Um, NO! Do I want to do things differently than my parents? Yes! Does this make my parents terrible people? No! Do I hope to be the perfect parent? Absolutely not, I know there is no such thing. My goal is to be present enough, to get when I screw up, and be able to drop my ego long enough to apologize and move on.
For me, Attachment Parenting is simply this; treat your kids how you want them to grow up and treat you and others in their lives. Is this type of parenting easy? NO! Is this hard in the face of the predictable intense and challenging moments of parenting? Yes!
But parenting isn’t for sissies, it’s hard, but our kids are worth our efforts. Lu Hanessian, author of Let the Baby Drive gives these words of wisdom, “Question things”. She also says it’s important to “Know your story.”
To better explain what this means to me, I will quote from Attached at the Heart, by Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker,
“It is a sign of strength and personal growth for a parent to examine his or her own childhood experiences, to explore how these negatively influence parenting, and to seek professional help if needed. When your connection with your child breaks, always take the time to repair it, whether that means apologizing or making amends to your child. By doing so you are modeling the very behavior you want to instill in your child.”
So instead of reverting to what I was shown as kid, I have turned instead to the healing sounds of music, to distract, calm and re-focus. After we’ve laughed and smiled our way back to “happy,” we can then work out a solution together, apologize genuinely and say, “I love you.”
Guest Post by Gena Kirby of Progressive Parenting. Gena is a Doula, a childbirth educator, a La Leche League InternationalBreastfeeding Peer Counselor, wife and a mother of three children under 9 years old. She serves on the Board of Directors of Attachment Parenting International and on any given day she is either sharing information about gentle birth and parents right toinformed consent on her radio program, or sharing tips on babywearingon her tv show.