Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Power of IGNORE-ance

As both of you know, I have me some children. Two to be exact. One who is 10 and another who will be 7 in a few days.

If you have read this blog for more than two days you also know that while I believe my children to be exceptional, sometimes their behavior is not so much ranking up there with the exceptional, unless you are counting exceptionally annoying.

Given a my chosen profession I admittedly feel a lot of pressure to present to the world well adjusted and well behaved children. That pressure unfortunately can lead to me making some decisions that are not what I would call...stellar and are counterproductive towards my goal. Sometimes I jump to quickly and too forcefully on things that are not worth it, in my zeal for well adjusted and behaved children.

Also those little darlings can play me like a calculator.

RE-Heally push my buttons that is.

So recently I have been actively trying to ignore many of the behaviors I would have previously jumped on like I was on a trampoline. You know what? It is working a good portion of the time.

I was a champion at ignoring tantrums when the children were toddlers. I didn't want to experience them, so it was very easy to ignore. I think each of them tried once or twice to throw long tantrums (15-20 minutes) and quickly discovered this was not effective with me and stopped.

School age behaviors are more verbal, smarter, provoking, and MUCH more difficult to ignore in my experience.

An example of successful ignoring:

#2 was in a mood and pretty much being oppositional to every thing said to her one morning a few weeks ago. She was particularly oppositional about breakfast. I generally let the children choose what they would like for breakfast. This particular day #2 was not making choices. After I had twice asked her what she would like, she refused to answer. I let her know that I would ask one last time, and if she did not answer I would be making the decision. I also let her know what time the kitchen was closing and that there would be no further opportunities to eat after that time before we left for school. #2 continued to tell me all about what she was not going to do, and I went on about my business, refusing to pay attention to or acknowledge her. I put the breakfast on the table, let her know it was time to sit at the table and took myself back to the kitchen. She protested a few more times, I continued to act as if I were deaf and in a few minutes she ate her breakfast, and we had no further problems that morning. I made a conscious effort NOT to comment on the fact that she had eaten, and hadn't expired, exploded or anything else. We just went on about our morning ablutions. I did not wish to remind her of what she had done that was displeasing. She already knew, and re-hashing it even through praise would have been pointless.

I find the power of ignore to be most effective when I remove myself from the general area of the child. It makes it easier because the annoying behavior is not right in my face.

Oppositional, whiny, and tattle tale behaviors are my main targets for ignoring right now.

In addition to ignoring behavior, I am also working on phrasing comments regarding behavior corrections using positive terms.

An example:
#1 replies to her sister in a very rude tone, with additional rude words. I respond to that with a calm, "Speak to your sister using kind words and a pleasant tone of voice." Number one then rephrases her comment to her sister appropriately. My usual annoyed response to this would be to snap at the child and tell her to stop being rude to her sister. That would be ignored and we would go through at least two (on a good day) tries of me prompting #1 in what to say and how to say it. Which leaves both of us irritated. (A day or so later I overheard #1 telling her sister that we are supposed to talk to each other using kind words and a kind tone of voice. So hard not to say something!! But I kept quiet. Not going back and rubbing my kid's nose in things by over talking is really reeeeaalllyy hard for me. Cause I have a lot to say generally.)

The positive statements regarding not so positive behaviors has been hard. Tremendously hard. I still fail at that a lot. But successes like the one above keep me motivated to keep trying.

The positive statements also help me remember to pay attention to the behavior I want as opposed to giving attention to the behaviors I don't want. That is a lot of Becky Bailey teaching. I have been reading a lot of her stuff, and I think it is really good. Check her out.

These are the things that have been rolling around in my head lately, so I felt compelled to share.

'Cause that's what we do here at Babble On. Babble about the thoughts that roll around like marbles in my head.


Valerie said...

Yah! Ok, now I have many more questions. (ooh I hear thunder, did you hear it too?) what if the screaming, crying or whining craziness happens mid-conversation while you are talking to the child in question? Do you just turn away? Although tempting maybe there is a better way to do that.

Also what about screaming? Alexander is a screamer. The boys will be playing and all of a sudden he'll let out with this bloodcurdling/I've been murdered kind of scream because Sebastian growled at him or used his powers on him when he didn't want him too. It's driving us crazy. Actually Sebastian does it sometimes too.

Maybe I can sign up for a session with you. Not this week of course :)

Missy said...

Ohh I did hear the thunder! Did you hear my head explode over at your house when #2 got out of bed with that rumble and several subsequent rumbles. I am not sure how to get across the point that thunder poses no danger to her.

When the craziness happens mid conversation I have been know to state that I will speak with said child once they are calm, and then go on about other business.

The screaming. Ahhhh... the screaming. Now Becky Bailey would tell us to handle this by acknowledging to the child that he/she was frustrated, etc by what the other child had done and then show the child, by giving them words to use instead of screaming, hitting,etc. That could work with both kids, the growler and the screamer.

I have been slowly reading Dr. Becky Bailey's Easy to Love Difficult to Discipline. It has a lot of good stuff in it. I am borrowing it from my supervisor right now, but plan to purchase it in the near future. You would of course be welcome to borrow it.

Schedule that session anytime (except this week natch!) I think sessions are best over dinner or lunch don't you?:)