Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 40: A Year's Work Pays Off

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.

As parents, we're constantly teaching, consciously or not. Sometimes our children exhibit a new behavior and we wonder why or where they got it, only to realize they picked it up from watching us. Oh, were you there when I was kicking the dog for jumping on the baby? Oops! Other times we teach the same phrases, actions, and guidelines over and over for months on end without seeing a return. But if we hang in there, that miraculous, long-awaited day comes when we see all our hard work pay off. We experienced one of these at ECFE today.

Jackson was across the room from me playing with his favorite tractor, complete with a farmer and trailer full of animals, when he was approached by the oldest (3) and largest boy in the room. As the boy grabbed the tractor and started to pull, Jackson held on tight and searched the room for me with an uncharacteristically calm face. I stayed where I was and simply said, "Talk to him about it."

He turned to the boy and said, "I'm going to keep this." The boy continued to pull, and a teacher moved in to moderate. She told the boy to listen, and asked Jackson to tell him again, which he did with a little more gusto. When the boy persisted, the teacher encouraged Jack to repeat himself, and he replied with a strong, "It's not okay for you to take this from me." Finally, the boy took notice and they were able to play with the coveted toy together peacefully.

I sat back and watched in amazement and with intense pride. There was no fit, there was no yelling, not even a moment of reactivity despite that fact that his feelings were strong. He maintained composure, spoke strongly, but respectfully, and stood his ground in an intimidating circumstance. These are the things I've been consciously teaching for over a year, and he was finally able to access them without my guidance. Hooray!

It may feel like all the repetition is for nothing, like they're just not getting it. But the truth is they get it in their own time. Today was the day Jackson was emotionally ready to tackle this situation on his own, not yesterday or a day sooner. And tomorrow he may need guidance again. But at least I know the groundwork we're laying isn't for naught. No matter how many times you tell yourself, sometimes a reminder like this makes it that much easier to go on repeating the same lessons over and over and over.

And now that I know he's added this skill to his communication tool belt, maybe it's time for me to catch up!

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