Monday, April 07, 2008

Answering the demanding child

The following is from the book Training Children by Gustava M. Wonderly copyright 1959.

Train your children to come to you, if possible, when they need you, instead of expecting you to come a distance while they stand where they are and shout, "Mother!" Kindly say, "Come here, please, and I'll help you." If you see that the child needs you to go to him, tell him you will come. He will delight to hear the words "I'm coming" or "I'll help you." He will, as he senses your love and interest, soon be answering you with the same kind tone and interest. The following lines of the poem "Speak Gently," from McGuffy's Third Reader, is valuable for parents as well as for children:
Speak gently; it is better far
To rule by love than fear.
Speak gently; let no harsh words mar
The good we might do here.

Jonas is by personality and possibly position as firstborn very demanding of my time and attention. He has always wanted to show me everything and tell me about everything! I enjoy him so much and love to hear about each new discovery, but at times it is frustrating. Jonas' favorite thing to do is to draw. He especially loves to create stories. It fasinates me to see how his mind works and to watch him draw and create. However, there's a little more going on in my life than Jonas' artwork. He calls to me throughout the day to come and look at what he's drawing and to ask me how to spell words so that he can write his stories. This can be time consuming and it's not always convinient to go to him. I've noticed lately when I'm in the middle of doing 15 things at once I get irritated and frustrated at going back and forth to him or answering his questions or commenting on his drawing or spelling words out for him. I want to encourage his passion for drawing and writing, but there are times when I definitely do it in the wrong spirit. When I answer Jonas right away and go to him every time he calls me for something it is feeding his will. Lately I've noticed him being very demanding when he calls to me. I'm trying to teach him patience. I want to answer him quickly and gently, but make him wait for me. I've also made him put his art stuff away several times during the day and go do something else so that he knows he's not in charge of anything- even his leisure. I'd appreciate your feedback and comments about this. How do you answer the demands of your children? How can we train our children through our answers to them? This journey of motherhood is a learning process. Let's encourage and help one another!


Hannah said...

Hey Beth- I am in the same boat as you with Abby. She is always demanding my attention and sometimes she yells for it. Like you- I am busy and can't just always go to her right away. It is tough. I know they do just need to learn patience and that we can't always be there but then I feel guilty too. Any advice you get I would love to hear too.

Leah (Parrish) Millan said...

Beth, I cannot wait to read the responses to this. Thanks for posting that excerpt... I needed that. I was just thinking today about how Olivia is so demanding of my time and attention. Whether I tell her to play by herself or I play with her, I struggle with guilt either way because on one hand I don't want to promote self-centeredness and on the other hand I want to meet her needs. I think that some of it lies in discerning the difference between and small interruption and an all-out "drop-what-you-are-doing-and-get-me-what-I-want" demand. Small interruptions happen, and I need to roll with them... it's part of being a mom. I can help Olivia think of where she put her Lamby last, or snap a lid on a marker, or tie on a cape, or fix a shoe when I'm stirring the noodles or washing a window. However, I've been stirring the noodles and AJ is at my feet whining and pointing to everything (He doesn't even know what he wants)... This would drive me crazy!!!!! Then the old Dr. Jacquot quote came to mind "If someone is going to me miserable in your class, don't let it be you!" Now, crying and whining at my feet is simply not tolerated, so I say "NO, sit at your table and wait for mommy (while I sit him at his table with some goldfish) be PATIENT". You can be as fast as a flash of lightning, and still not be fast enough for a hungry toddler. Well... that's it =) I'm excited to read what everyone else can share.

Carrie said...

Caleb is definately a first born child as well and we have our struggles definately. I have to pray often for patience and kind words. I appreciate your insight and think it is a good idea to answer but make him wait (they have a hard time when you say 10 min and keep asking every 30 sec if time is up) but still learning it takes training. Anyway here are 2 tips from me. Last year I decided to set aside Caleb and mom time each day - school! It gave me a chance to read to him, listen to him, teach him verses ang God's Word and gave him some much needed attention. This week I'm putting together a chart for things for him to do each day - I think showing him you can do this on your own will encourage more - stickers and charts seem to be great motivators for good behavior. Look forward to hearing more input!

Future of Hope said...

Beth, this is a big struggle with Jack too, and boy am I guilty of the irritation in my voice!
One thing that has helped us tremendously is when I spend one-on-one time with Jack. He is now doing piano lessons once a week, and that gives me an opportunity to really explore his creative side with him.
I like the idea of having Jack come to me. That makes a lot of sense. And I appreciated your comment about Jonas not being in charge of his leisure time. I will definitely ask God to help me put these great thoughts into practice!

sc3b said...

A great post Beth!! I am even now in the midst of dealing with a demanding child!! I want to throw my hands up at times & give up. Here's a quote (sorry for the length) from a truly great book: "Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes our Souls".
"There's only one way to develop perseverance. We have to surrender to God as we feel pushed past the human breaking point. We have to reach the threshold of exhaustion, and then get pushed even further. One trial can help us deal with fear. Two trials can lead to wisdom. But perseverance? That takes a bundle of difficulties. All which mean that parenting extremely demanding children feeds a spiritual need in our soul - to participate in the crucial discipline of perseverance on which our fruitfulness as believers depends."
Last night I actually said "I give up." But today...I WILL go on!! I know I need to train & disciple my children, but can never lose sight of what God is working out in my life as well.

Audrea said...

Wow, what great thoughts to reflect on! Maybe this is a practical suggestion for handling all the "come see what I colored" moments that string together endlessly: Have a special folder or box for him to put his papers in while he's coloring. So when he says, "Mommy, come see what I made," you can say "Put it in your special folder, Buddy, and I'll set the timer for xx minutes and when it goes off (or when I'm finished with ______) we'll look at all your creations together!" I think it would work the same for all those "watch my puppet show" and "Let's make up a story" events. Today everyone knows we're playing princess Monopoly after supper because we all have work to do right now. It sure is tricky helping them learn to be observant of others and learn to be patient while at the same time making sure you do give them your attention and express love when there's always jobs to be done. I know I'm guilty of making many a promise of "just a minute" and then never doing it because "oh, good they forgot now I can do my other job." I'm thinking setting a time whether by event or clock may help us both with the balance. (Now I need to go downstairs and swallow my own medicine!)

Erin Neiner said...

Great post, beth! I have so many rambling thoughts bouncing around in my head and very little time to comment at the moment. But I shall be back! :)