Let Your Yes Be Yes

I read these paragraphs in the August 2008 edition of Parenting Magazine and saved it for later. Actually I think the article caught my eye "6 Ways to Be a Great Parent" but I didn't read it very thoroughly. I should have.
"During my first few years of motherhood, my vision of the perfect mom was one who was all-loving, all-giving, all-nurturing, who never got angry or said no. If I slipped up (as I did frequently), I just had to work harder to attain perfection. And if my kid was cranky, unruly, and demanding, that must mean I had to be even more patient and understanding.

I believed this until the the day I exploded. When I finally said no, the sun came out. I realized that being a great mother didn't mean endlessly indulging my child but guiding her, acting as her leader.

With my two youngest, I've been more confident saying no, and it's been smoother. They know the rules because I've made them clear, and they also feel secure that yes means yes."
Ever noticed how much contradiction you'll find by reading different parenting books? There's the "don't-spank-em-say-yes-as-often-as-you-can" book club and the "gotta-teach-them-responsibility-so-let-them-starve-if-they-don't-eat-what-you-cooked" club. And all flavors in between.

I dunno. Maybe my labels are harsh. Just trying to prove a point. I've had a lot of learning to do in the past 3.5 years.

I've learned that:

We need to treat our children with respect. 
We need to invite their cooperation, not force it. 
We need to have high expectations. 
We need to encourage autonomy and self-reliance. 
We need to be playful. 
We need to set clear limits, that are obey-able. 
We need to follow through. 
We need to accept strong feelings. 
We need to be consistent.
We need to pull, not push. 

Ever heard of the "String Theory"? Basically, children are like strings. They respond better to being led. Pushing = rebellion.
"Any time a child begins to resist, even slightly, remember the string and immediately quit pushing. Instead, step back a few paces and consider creative ways to lead your child in the direction you want him to go. Respect your child's rights, but don't let him step on yours. As a member of your family and as a citizen, he has certain responsibilities. Your job is to motivate, encourage, guide, and gently influence your child so he will choose to fulfill those responsibilities and do what you want him to do." --Kuzma
But this doesn't mean we should let go of our boundaries and stop being consistent! Parenting is not for the weak of mind! They did not teach this stuff in college. Wish they had.

Enter "Request. Explain. Command. Count." [RECC]
Too bad it's not a cool acronym that spells a word or something. 

I make my request, using "please". I explain thoroughly, if need be, so he understands why. Then I command with a firm tone. And I count down {from 10, or 5, or 3 depending on how long I think it will take to obey}. The consequence is understood and will come to pass at zero.

I don't even raise my voice. My nerves don't become raw.

It's my own personally patented method of communication with my three-year-old. Because I was tired of the power struggles. Tired of feeling powerless and confused. And angry. I knew the theory {respect, play, be consistent}. I knew the kind of parent I wanted to be {loving, giving, nurturing}. But for some reason, things weren't adding up to happy parent, happy child.

And I wouldn't be blogging about it if I hadn't had success. 

The missing element -- what I needed in order to be a self-controlled, successful parent -- was a calm attitude of I'm In Charge. Not lording it over. Not authoritarian, without reason. But just simply, this is what I'm asking and I'm expecting you'll do it. I'm not going to fight about it. But if you can't follow these directions as I'm counting down, you'll have the natural consequence.

I use it sparingly. Sometimes I just make my request and then tickle.

But this works for us. Praise God. Because I thought the tumultuous threes were going to last six more months.  Don't smirk. I'm sure we'll hit another difficult phase soon.

I'm just thankful that I'm learning to let my yes be yes and my no be NO. I'm the mom here.

Imagine that.