Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dropping the Expectation

This post is going to be about parenting. Dropping the expectation refers to deciding that for a while that one thing that you've been trying to get your kid to do, but they just won't do it, well you're going to stop trying to make them do it. It's not putting up a white flag and giving up, and it's not a permanent situation. In our house there are no white flags, because my children are not my adversaries. Dropping the expectation is about deciding that this problem can wait and be gotten to later. It means that there are other things you'd like to work on and improve first, and this particular thing can wait.

We have dropped an expectation in our house, one that I know brings struggles to nearly every parent at some time or another. We have dropped the expectation of bed time. Over the last couple of weeks bedtime has been very stressful. She never seems ready for bed and when we take her to bed it seems like a back and forth for most of the night and it is stressful for all of us.

Sleep is one of those things that you cannot force another human being to do. Most people can't even force themselves to sleep! And I know that the last thing I want to do when I'm having trouble going to sleep is to lay in bed, something about it makes me feel like I'm just becoming more awake. So I give the same consideration to my daughter.

Throughout a child's development they will go through a lot of changes. What we had been doing for bedtime used to work, in fact it worked for quite a long time. Now McKaleigh has reached a point where her needs have changed, what used to work doesn't work anymore. So instead of just arbitrarily continuing to force that old routine on her, we are taking a break, and as a family we will figure out what she needs in order to make bedtime a peaceful time once again. This week we will take note of when she wakes up and when she starts to seem sleepy, once or twice we will ask her if she would like to go lay down, and that's it. There will be no "It's bed time, let's go" or carrying her to bed crying. Monday and Tuesday both ended in her falling asleep in the living room and that's okay, this is only temporary. I'm hoping that throughout the next week we will be able to figure out what is going to work for her and if it takes longer, so be it.

"Dropping the expectation" is what Ross Greene refers to as Plan C. Here is his video on Plan A, B, and C. Very good information!

And just to leave you with some food for thought, I think Alfie Kohn's book Unconditional Parenting complements Ross Greene's approach very well. Here are the principles of Unconditional Parenting.

1. Be reflective.
2. Reconsider your requests.
3. Keep your eye on your long term goals.
4. Put the relationship first.
5. Change how you see, not just how you act.
6. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
7. Be authentic.
8. Talk less, ask more.
9. Keep their ages in mind.
10. Attribute to children the best possible motive consistent with the facts.
11. Don't stick your no's in unnecessarily.
12. Don't be rigid.
13. Don't be in a hurry.

These two men have really helped to change my views and I think their works are eye-opening. I hope to blog about each of these principles in the future.

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