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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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week 2 since "the switch"

About a week ago I wrote about how I had relaxed my behavioural expectations of my 2 year-old son, and how that had brought about a positive shift in my relationship with him. I wasn't yelling at him anymore for doing bad things, and I was re-evaluating what was really all that bad about what he was doing, anyway. He still has his "moments" -- several of them every day, in fact -- but I haven't been reacting to them in the angry way that I was becoming accustomed to. I just try to pick him up, or crouch down to his level, and give him a hug and ask him how I can help. About half the time, if I stop whatever else I'm doing and concentrate carefully on what he's trying so hard to say, then I can figure out what he really wants and just give it to him. It's infinitely more gratifying for me to bring him pleasure or to help him feel better or to resolve a problem than it is to try to ignore him or delay him or push him off for another two minutes so that I can finish washing that pot in the sink. Who the hell cares about that pot anyway? Why not bend down and embrace the child instead?

I also just can't help but love this boy. I love him terribly just because he's my son, of course, and I can recall the true love that blossomed between him and me when he was only a few months old. But he's also so incredibly beautiful and full of expressive affection himself, it's impossible not to fall in love with him every day.

What I meant by "the switch" was that it was a week ago that I made a simple but conscious decision to change the way I was thinking about my boy when I was getting mad at him. I just chose to think about it differently. And it suddenly changed the way I behaved around him and the rest of the family. His behaviour and that of some others in the family also seemed to improve simultaneously. I wanted to make note that I've kept up that practice this week too, and I'm sticking by it because it's working. And it's also much easier than I thought it would be to change the way I think about things, even things that used to bother me a lot.

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hi from Kelly Weaver-Jerry's friend

(Anonymous) February 4th, 2009
Jerry told me about your blog so I decided to look at it. Loved it!! I could totally relate to what you were saying. The blog was also very helpful. My daughter's behavior also drives me a little crazy and maybe it is not because of the behavior, but my expectations. I am going to try and change my thoughts as well. I have to tell you that if you wrote what you said in the blog as an article and sent it to a woman's magazine, I bet it would be published!

I thought I would also mention (since you expressed an interest in community service) that Dalhousie has an online social work degree. You have to do two workterms, but everything else is online. You can do it as part-time as you want. The degree is held in the same esteem as the campus degree. I have one year to go. I was able to do the schoolwork, work full-time, have a second job, and look after my daughter. Just thought I would let you know.

Great blog!!

leaves1 February 7th, 2009
Hi Dustin, I just friended you back after I'm not sure how long... was just perusing your recent entries about your son, and I appreciate you intentions and efforts to have a good connection with him. Have you ever heard of Nonviolent Communication? NVC offers really wonderful ways of communicating with people of all ages, and I think you would really enjoy learning about it and trying it out with your son. There are some good articles that give examples of how NVC works with kids here: http://www.cnvc.org/en/what-nvc/articles-writings/parents/parents-resources-parents
I think the article (5) "Hearing the 'Yes' in the 'No'" is a good intro and gives a good real life example.

I don't have kids, but I did some training in NVC some years ago - one of the great things about it is that it is applicable in all relationships, and the "tools" are always with me. It's also something that gets better with practice, because it does represent a paradigm shift, so that's why there are lots of trainings and practice groups and such.

iamom February 9th, 2009
Hey there, thanks for your message. I have indeed hearc of NVC through lj user="willowing}> (is that how we friended each other?), although I haven't had time to look deeply into it. It sounds bang on, though! And from the excerpts displayed on the link you sent me, I think I'd like to buy Rosenberg's book about parenting.

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