Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Art of Playful Engagement

 I woke up on the wrong side of the bed the other day. Which means all of us did. I had only been up about an hour, when I realized that this day was going to go on the books of bad attitudes and negativity if I didn't do something to turn this ship around.
Now in another life, I would just go back to bed. I would sleep for another hour or two, and then take a shower alone, it would be warm, and no one would bust down the door trying to tell on anyone. Then I would have a quiet cup of tea with warm eggs and read a book, in quiet. Until my over-tired body woke up and I started this beautiful day with a smile. 
But I don't live in that world. 
At five am, my husbands alarm went off.
Then at around six my lovely, naked (as per usual) three year old came to snuggle me, he slipped under the covers and backed up into me. Then he turned his head and kissed me and said, "Mama, there is poop all over my bed and all over my bum."
That was the beginning of this day. 
And it went on from there. 
Kids refusing to get dressed for school. 
Snobby chef inspired children who were critiquing my over easy eggs, that I had "ruined their natural bitterness with all this garlic salt! Next time just use the chopped onion! And DON'T flip them!"

My little blessings were feeling more like God's plagues. What have I done that you must smite me Lord?!

I knew I had to restart the day. 

And then it came to me. The angels were singing and the lights from heaven were shinning down on me, as I started an aria about the water cups that my three year old had left in the middle of the kitchen floor. He had just finished throwing a fit because he wanted to get it on his own, and I'd let him, just for him to turn around and put it on the floor, get another, and fill it, then place it on the floor. By the time I had walked backed into the kitchen there were six glasses full of water in the middle of the floor. 

And so it began. 

A bel canto that went something like this, "You wanted A-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a glass of water. You wanted A-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a glass of water. You wanted to get it by yourself. Now you have gotten the whole neighborhood glasses of water, and my kitchen has become a splash zone. PLEEEEEEEASE dump them ALLLLLLLLLLLLLL out in the sink. NOwwwwwwwwwww (I held out now for a super long time.) And put every single glass back in the cupboard. 

All of the kids froze. It was a moment from heaven. 
And then all of us started laughing, for a long time. 

And thus it had begun. 

The rest of the day was filled with song. It was like being at the grand opera. There was emotion, tears, falsetto, crescendo, there was laughter, and drama. 

There were songs about practicing dribbling in the kitchen (for unending hours at a time), there were repetitive motif's about the toothbrush heads I find all over the house, in beds, and in DVD cases, in bathtubs, and music boxes, the toothbrush heads are everywhere except in the bathroom. 

There were many melodramas touching subjects from homework, to genital cleaning procedures, to sharing trains, to lessons on reactional behavior. 

And if nothing else, it kept me calm, and laughing, instead of angry, and upset. When you are constantly bursting into song, you can't go there. It kept me calm. And laughing. 

When I teach TBRI® Correction Principles I always emphasis level one, Playful Engagement. It is the beginning. This is how we should always begin to correct behavior in children. Because most often, they know. They know they've made a bad choice, and they wish they could take it back. SO just a playful, "Whoa Nelly!" or an over exaggerated British accent "Excuse me sir?!" Or whatever else, works for you. That makes your kids smile, that makes you feel ridiculous, and forces a smile out of you too. That is where we should all begin with correction. Because often times, when we don't go straight into attack mode, when we laugh, that's all it takes. Do you know the brain HAS to be fully engaged to laugh, to find humor. And when the brain is fully engaged is when we learn the most, and the quickest. It only takes 12 repetitions about the toothbrush heads in song. But when I scream, it can take over 350 repetitions. 

Early in the day I put up a Facebook post about my new parenting strategy. My friend suggested I try rapping as well. I was afraid that would encourage my cursing. You see it is so hard to use foul language when singing opera. But she uses it like this: "I said a hip hip a hippity hop. You bettah clean up yo room or I won't stop. " 

So try it? Whatever works for you. For me it's opera. I feel that I can add more drama and umph. For you maybe it's rap? Or country? 

But whatever you try, I bet it will help keep things light, and fun in your home. And I know we all want more of that.

(Side note, after a morning of singing I found this going on in the basement. Apparently they wanted me to just let it go! This is the first time I've ever heard Charli sing.)

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