Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 27: Yes I Can!

I will choose to find a positive perspective under even the most negative circumstances.
I will choose acceptance over resistance.
I will choose to focus on the things I value about my children, not the things that drive me nuts.
I will choose to extend the same grace, love and forgiveness to myself that I try to lavish on my husband and children each day.

What you think of me, I'll think of me. 
And what I think of me, I'll be.
 This is a quote that was given to me by our dear Teacher Ellen at the completion of our first ECFE class when Jackson was just a few months old. As of recent, I've had the chance to really refocus on this concept.

I've been finding myself telling Jackson more often what he's not capable of: 
"You're showing me you can't control your body, so I'm going to help you." 
"If you can't stay by me, you'll have to ride in the cart." 
"You can't stack the DVD cases because you showed me you couldn't leave the discs in the case."
"We're going to put the microphone away because you showed me you weren't capable of keeping the cord out of your mouth." (Interesting side note: As we've started to take care of the candida, he's stopped chewing on everything!)

It seems innocent enough, but it's a game-changer. The more I tell him he can't, the less I see him showing me how capable he really is. I've tried to be very conscious and careful about outright labeling him, (You're shy...You're sensitive...), knowing that doing so puts him in a box that he may not break out of. But in focusing on the can'ts instead of the cans, I've been doing exactly the same thing. I'm deciding for him what he is and isn't capable of, and he's living up to those expectations. Why try when Mom has already decided I can't do it? 

It takes a lot of fortitude to prove someone wrong. Proving someone right, on the other hand, is an easier challenge to meet. So if he's going to prove me right, I  better give him the right thing to prove! The more I tell him he is capable, the more he'll feel capable. The more capable he feels, the more capable he shows me he is. Today I saw it in action. 

The coop has mini carts, and Jackson loves to feel like he's shopping independently. The only problem is that in the past, he's had too hard a time keeping his hands on his cart. It's not exactly a kid-friendly place: Scoops and bulk bins right at his level, tongs and fresh foods within reach - it's a whole foods playground in his eyes. Don't get me wrong, it's adorable when he holds up a jar of maple syrup to inspect the label and make sure it has green-light ingredients before adding it to his cart, but it's been impossible to keep him close and stop him from filling his cart with things we're not buying.

I've dealt with this by putting a ban on the shopping cart and wearing him on my back, but he still asks for the cart every time. Today when he asked I gave him the usual, "You've shown me that it's too hard to stay close and keep your hands to yourself so we're not going to use the cart." But as I started to put the carrier on I had a moment of clarity. It was time to practice what I'd been preaching to myself. 

I got down on his level and said, "Jackson, I changed my mind. I know you are capable of staying close and keeping your hands to yourself. I'd like to give you a chance to show me how capable you are." For 30 minutes we shopped together. He was all smiles and I could see how proud he was of himself, how responsible he felt. He needed a few reminders (which were all phrased positively, "I know you're capable, please show me.") and a little extra guidance by the end, but he really rose to the occasion. In fact he did so well that one of the other shoppers asked him, "Are you always this good at staying with Mommy?" He beamed when he said, "Yes!" 

Of course there isn't anything magical about this. It's not a tool to manipulate his behavior, nor is "hands to yourself" the goal. The goal is to instill confidence, to show trust, and to inspire him to fulfill his potential and grow. But if in the process the behavior happens to fall in line with what makes my life easier, I'll take the bonus!


  1. Do you keep a chart or folder anything besides this blog where you track what changes you are making and how it is going? I just found your blog and think it is great!! I was just wondering what resources you may use on a daily basis. It sounds wonderful!

  2. While I have always used this language when talking about physical things (I don't tell him he can't climb things, for example, only that it's not appropriate in situations or help him remember the consequences that could happen) but in moments of frustration, I probably use this language more.

    Off to practice.

  3. Jenn, I can barely keep up with the blog, so no other charts or records. ;) My goal with this project was to set aside time every day to focus on the goals, where we've been and where we're going. So far it's been really helpful. I'm glad you're reading along!