Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Yikes. Messing Up.

It seems as of late I have been posting often about parenting and things I find important. And I just want to make sure that I haven't put myself up on any sort of pedestal.
I mess up often.
Knowledge and wisdom are worlds apart. Often times for me, in my parenting journey, the road between knowledge and wisdom (The way I've defined wisdom is: appropriately applied knowledge.) is long and winding, and sometimes I get lost, or stall out? 

Last night In the wee hours of the morning today, I totally messed up.

I often times raise my voice when it is unnecessary. Last night, after the fifteenth time my (almost) three year old got up and came running in to my room to tell me he had to pee, I told him he was idiot. 
(Insert disappointed gasp here.)
(Or acknowledged smirk of possession.)

In our house we practice re-dos. Or more appropriately, we practice grace. 

You know, when so and so demands juice. Or whose-it "accidentally" runs into his brother, after his brother declines his invitation to play his game, his way.

Instead of sending the offender to their room, (which in my opinion sends the message "When you mess up, when you're ugly, we don't want you."), or dooling out lofty consequences that often time burden me much more than my children, we try a re-do. 
A mere, "Whoa buddy, try it again!"
Or, "Yikes! You must be angry? Can you tell us what you're feeling with your words, instead of with your body?"
Sometimes its a, "My ears cannot hear you when you speak disrespectfully, can you please try that again?"
And most of the time it's just a simple, "Would you like a re-do?"

There is a scientific reason why the do-over is effective. The science geek phrase, "What fires together wires together!"
Don't you love that?! 

What it means is this, when 'a' happens, and you do 'b'. It creates a neural pathway in your brain. So every time that 'a' happens, and you do 'b', that pathway gets deeper and deeper. Pretty soon, when 'a' happens, 'b' has already begun. 
You know that term, "I am stuck in a rut." 
That could be literal when we talk about our brains. We make ruts in our brains, some of these are really good, but some of them are bad. 

That is why we do re-dos. 
We not only avoid other more extreme consequences which often lead to dis-connection, but we also make a NEW neural pathway (and all of us science nerds cheer wildly). So that eventually, when 'a' happens, 'b' happens to be a great socially adaptive, respectable, and safe reaction! This allows us to teach, and correct, without loosing connection.

I did say eventually, because it takes a normally developed, calm, fully engaged brain, ,about 360 repetitions to create this new nerual pathway or FREEWAY! 
But here is an awesome trick: In play it takes, on average, ONLY 12 repetitions to create a new neural pathway! 
(And the science nerds go CRAZY!!!!)

This is why we try to correct behaviors with playful interaction!!!! 
The "Whoa buddy" said in a funky horse voice. 
Or the "Would you like a re-do?" in my best Scoobydoo impression. 
The dramatic "My ears cannot hear..." said in a staunch British accent (while pretending to faint)... 
Keep the brain fully engaged, and help learning new behaviors happen more quickly.

Plus there are more "serious" ways to be playful too! (Leave it to us grown ups to be serious about play.)
Whether we are attempting to learn new behaviors around problems we are encounter on a daily basis (like homework time, cleaning up the basement, or getting ready for school) with puppets, or dramatic character skits, it gets the message across, FASTER! 

So as I lay in my bed this morning after yelling at my two year old and calling him an idiot, the moon shining directly in the window above my pillow casting a eery glow on my dark and messy room, my heart continued racing because my adrenalin was still high, and my thoughts followed suit. I was remembering almost word for word this article I had read recently from the Huffington Post about how important our words are, and how yelling at our children is so terrible... As if I needed the reminder. 
It is all true. I don't disagree with her in anyway. 

But I was feeling so ashamed, ridden with guilt. This isn't the first time I have yelled at this sweet boy. (I mean, it was the first time today, because it was only 1 am...) And I was feeling really disgusting. And then I remembered some more science...
Did you know that when there is a connection between two individuals and it gets ruptured, when it is repaired neurotransmitters fire that actually deepen that connection and cause joy and happiness?! 

I quickly got up and scooped up that boy and brought him into my bed. I told him how sorry I was for being disrespectful and hurtful. I told him that when he looks into my eyes, I want him to himself. I want his preciousness to be found there. I want to reflect to him what his Heavenly Father sees in him. 

And I hadn't. 
And I was sorry.

There are things I really need to work on. And I'll never arrive. It's about the journey. 
And luckily, my children have allowed me do-overs too. 
Thank God for grace. 

(This video talks about the science of repairing a relationship, it's awesome!)

1 comment:

  1. What an awesome way to demonstrate God's grace in tangible ways for kids. I am praying for patience when we have kids because my fuse can be too short. Keep loving' those precious little babes. You are doing awesome!