Week 7 – Encouragement


Yesterday afternoon I felt like I was fully in my element.  It’s been raining here all week so I haven’t felt like doing anything but curling up on the couch with a book and a wubie (a.k.a. blanket).  And yesterday, the kids and I were in sync.  They let me be on the couch while they played nicely…and on their own.  Dinner time was almost conflict free – just one minor incident where Rip wouldn’t keep his feet off of me while I ate so I kindly removed myself to another part of the table.  Rip did his contributions with no resistance (feed the dog and wipe down the dinner table post dinner).  Then Rip and I spent some time connecting while working in his activity book.  Bathtime was a breeze.  Rip easily and quickly put away his clean clothes.  Then the kids played together for 40 minutes without a single fight.  Wow…that was fabulous!  And my favorite part of the evening was when Rip hung out with Riley and me in Riley’s room while we read our bedtime books.  Normally Rip is disruptive at this time and we tend to go to the bad place quickly.  But last night, he sat in the room, looked at books quietly while I did my book time with Riley.  Completely enjoyable!  Got to go put that on the appreciation board when I’m done here!

Of course, all good things must come to an end.  Lately we have really been struggling with morning time/routine.  And this morning was a doozey!  Can’t figure out what’s going on here.  Need to reach out to Vicki in the Parenting On Track forum.  Hoping for some insight on what’s going on.

Oh, we also tried giving Riley her first allowance.  Rip was able to get her to join us at family meeting this week (Rip was the most excited about Riley getting money!)  However, Riley wasn’t all that interested as you can see here.

And last of all, here’s the most adorable picture of Riley.  That girl LOVES animals…you can just see it in her eyes:

Riley loving on the animals at the pet store.

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I was on solo duty with the kids tonight while Kristin enjoyed a much-deserved night out with the girls.    With all the traveling I’ve been doing for work lately, I was a little worried about how the evening was going to go.   I made quesadillas for us dinner, and after we all finished eating, I asked Ripken if he would play with Riley in the playroom while I cleaned up the kitchen.   About 5 minutes later, I heard the first sounds of conflict – and as things began to escalate,  I went in to try to calm things down.

Ripken was holding an activity book tightly to his chest, while Riley – clearly very agitated – was trying her hardest to pull it away from him.   At first, I asked Rip if he would be willing to share his book with Riley, and I received the standard reply – “No, it’s mine!”  Ok, time for plan B.

I leaned down to Rip’s level and very calmly told him that I was counting on him to take care of his sister while I was busy in the kitchen.   Bingo.  Rip looked at me very earnestly and repeated, “you’re counting on me?”   I think he realized that I was offering him a form of responsibility, and he seemed genuinely eager to accept it.   He opened the book and very nicely asked Riley if she wanted to do one of the activities with him.    No more conflicts or fighting the rest of the night.

I’m so excited!!!  Rip managed to get ready for school on his own (no fussing) and to school on time!!  Seriously cannot remember when we made it to school more than 30 seconds before the final bell.  He has also taken to letting me drop him off at the curb (vs. walking him to class) and today as he jumped out of the car, with a smile on his face, he said “love you mom!”  This alone would make it a banner day…alas there is more.

Ate at a restaurant tonight.  By Thursday, I’m pretty done with cooking so tonight I made an executive decision and took the family out to eat.  On the way there, Rip reminded Kirk and I how he was very well behaved last time we ate out.  I thanked him for that and hoped that we could have a repeat performance.  Both Rip and Riley were FABULOUS!  Sat in their seats, ate all their dinners!  If we can do this one more time, I’d say that this could be a good trend!  Since we haven’t started privileges and responsibilities, I’d have to attribute this to everything else we have done up until this point in time.  And I do have to say that meals at home really are still quite a bit out of control so I fully expect we’ll factor that into the P&R.

Ok, final thing that I’m grateful for today:  Riley asked to get out of the tub (our tub is too tall for her to get out on her own), ran to her room and got her PJs on.  In the past I had always laid out her PJs, but clearly I didn’t need to be doing that as she managed just fine on her own.

And the cherry on top of all this was Kirk came home from a business trip today.  Great to have the family all back together again!

Wow, the holidays really kept us busy this year!  Things have finally slowed down and I’m anxious to update everyone on how things have been going over here.  Lot’s of stuff so I’m going to bullet point and get back to my regular updates.

Last Lesson:  Crucial C’s.  Yep.  Love these.  I can confidently say I am regularly using these at least twice a day on both kids.  The funny thing is, I think Rip is starting to use some of them back on me!  One of my connecting sayings is something like “would be great if you could keep me company” and Rip often times comes to get me and let me know I could keep him company if I wanted.  Love it!

Training Update:

Overall things feel like they are moving forward in the right direction.  Ripken and I still tend to go down the rabitt hole but it’s less frequent and when it happens it’s not as severe and doesn’t last as long.  I used to think this was a revenge thing, but I’m thinking more and more it’s a power thing.  We’re working on it and still very much love each other when our heads clear.

Would love to point out how much more Rip is engaged in participating around the house.  (Ok, before I go any further, I swear everytime I verbalize this thought or write in the blog how things are moving along well, we hit a rough spot.  I’m hoping by saying that out loud the murphy’s law gods will spare me this time.)  Anyhow, Rip is helping with cleaning up the play room.  Part of this is due to training and part of it is him jumping in to participate in the family.  He’s also not putting up much resistance if I ask him to help with something.  He used to pitch a fit, moan and groan and not help.  Now he might give me one or two lines of whining and then pitch in.  Love it!

Riley:  oh my little spit fire.  She’s ready to tackle the world.  Doesn’t like being left behind on whatever her brother is/can do.  She is really a great example of how capable and willing kids are if we just give them the chance to learn and do.  I’m thinking of how she already bathes herself (including washing her hair).

Of course, implementing these relationship strategies on the second child brings along guilt for not using these strategies with Rip when he was younger.  I think we should be given some type of practice child (a robotic figure that seems real and we could somehow be temporarily emotionally attached so to make it seem authentic?)  That way, when we’re pulling our hair out several years into raising this practice child, we can discover Parenting On Track, turn in the ruined practice child and start again fresh with our own real child.  Is that too far fetched?

Ok, I digress.  Next on our agenda is Encouragement and Privileges and Responsibilities.  We’ve been on the Encouragement track for quite sometime but will do a refresher and move pretty quickly to P&R.  I’m looking forward to the P&R because we have presented our children with WAY too much P and not enough R.  Haven’t discussed this with Kirk yet but I have a nice long list of P’s.  Need to flush out some R’s and figure out how to implement without it seeming like we just did lockdown in a maximum security prison.