Contributed by Casey O’Roarty
I try to make sure to have special time with each of my children on a regular basis. I know that our interactions are more positive and more cooperative when I do. But time is a funny thing. Often the week flies by before I realize that I missed opportunities or the times together are sabotaged by my controlling tendencies. I want to embrace the opportunity to connect, and to allow my child to take the lead.
Recently, my son and I had the evening together. After playing with his friends all afternoon, we were both looking forward to our evening together, with included making banana pancakes, smoothies and a candlelit dinner for two. All accompanied by my son’s favorite Pandora Radio station, One Direction.
I mentioned having some controlling tendencies, right? Well, this really can come out when I am trying to teach the kid to cook – it stops being fun when the teacher gets too focused on the outcome rather than the process. I decided that this night would be different. Mistakes were met with smiles, breakout dance sessions were encouraged, and the tablespoon was used to drop the batter into the pan to make for easier flipping.
We had so much fun! Once the table was set, we lit our candles and sat down to our feast. We laughed and talked, and enjoyed being together. Joyful. This is how you build relationship with your children.
After dinner it was time to clean up. I began to focus more on the task at hand rather than the time together. As I stood at the sink doing dishes, I reminded my son, in a not-so-nice voice to please clear the table. My son looked at me and asked, “Mom, can you be like you were before? When we were dancing? More smiley?”
This is the child that recently told me that it seemed like I was in a bad mood a lot of the time. This sweet kid, who just had a glimpse of the mom who is so fun and connected, reminded me to be my best. What a smart and courageous boy to be able to ask for what he needs. What a gift to both of us.
I put the dishes down and we had another little breakout dance session. Huge smiles on both of our faces.
This special time business is as much for us as it is for them. It allows parenting to be joyful and loving, provides space for us all to be our best. Jane Nelsen, author of Positive Discipline says, “Children do better when they feel better.” I think this goes for grown ups too – we all do better when we feel better.
So moving forward, here is what I plan to take with me:
• Embrace special time. You can’t always control what it looks like, but you can be present, allowing your children to lead you in the direction they want to go. You may be surprised by how fun it is.
• Have more breakout dance sessions. In an article written by Steve Brown, MD in Psychology Today, he recognizes that dancing allows for “social and emotional attunement processes that accompany such physical coordination, including feelings of bonding, empathy, cooperation, and social identity,” good reasons to find times to boogie.
• Be more “smiley.” In another article in Psychologist Today, writer Sarah Stevenson shares that “Each time you smile you throw a little feel-good party in your brain. The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness.” And who isn’t down with a feel-good party?
About the Author
Casey O’Roarty is a Positive Discipline Trainer and owner of Joyful Courage, a company dedicated to training adults to create space for children to be their best selves. A former elementary school teacher with a master’s degree in education from the University of Washington, Casey has been sharing Positive Discipline with parents of the Skykomish Valley since 2007. She lives in Monroe, Washington, with her husband and two children, a 10-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son.
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Photo Credit Litlnemo