Thursday, April 23, 2009

Positive Energy Bank

Today the girls and I took a spontaneous trip to the Boston Aquarium with Ellie and her son, Ben. I don't normally do something "big" on the spur of the moment like that (involving the train and a significant distance from home.) I was proud of myself for doing something out of my comfort zone, and it felt very in line with the changes I'm trying to make in my life right now. Ellie is a very inspirational person and I find that when I've spent a day with her, I feel very energized toward moving on the path I want to pursue.

One of the things we talk about a lot is parenting, and our challenges in trying to walk the walk of the parent we know we should be, and truly want to be. She was talking about the fact that very early on, kids are programmed with the "tape" that runs through their minds for the rest of their lives - the one that informs what they think of themselves, and how they percieve others think about them as well. I wondered what my girls' tapes might be. I think for Amelia, it's something like "I'm capable and competent and smart and creative." I know I help to engender that in her (at least I hope I do!) and I feel proud of that. With Abby, my younger, my tempestuous one, I think it's something like "I am happy and imaginative and creative, but I get in trouble a lot." And I wonder how I can change that? I want her to be polite and empathetic and NOT fresh and smart-alecky to others, so I feel like I'm constantly correcting her behavior. It's exhausting for me, and frustrating for her, and I have felt caught in a vicious cycle of that in recent months.

We play the game "roses and thorns" at dinner, (telling the best and worst of our day), and yesterday, Abby said, "My rose is when Mommy told me I was a good girl at the grocery store." Oh, I felt just sacked in the gut. If THAT'S the best part of a lovely spring day in our household, one full of playing outside and a trip to the library and ice cream cones and trying on spring clothes, then WHAT is missing from her life? Praise. That's what it is. I realized that I need to add more compliments and praise to the positive energy bank so that when I have to detract from it by correcting her manners or her impulsive behavior, there is plenty more left in there.

I want to continue to be mindful and conscious and present in my parenting. I won't always win, but I know it's worth my energy to try.

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