I am a mom of twin, bouncing happy 3 year old boys. Having my boys is one of my proudest achievements and yet, when I have to scream at them to go to bed, or bribe my sons with a new toy car to sit quietly in the stroller, I feel like a failure as a parent. First of all, I am physically bigger and smarter than they are so why am I not acting in a reasonable way? This is a topic of conversation I have daily with my friends who have children of similar age. So a few days ago, I invited my friends to a lecture given by Dr. Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. This lecture is from a series of workshops hosted by Beit Rabban Day School, which also happens to be the school I am sending my kids to nursery this coming September.
Beit Rabban believes that the intellectual development of a child stems from his social and emotional growth. The school works with each child to ensure their social and emotional needs are cared for while school is in session. In an effort to continue the school’s work at home, Beit Rabban sponsors a series of interactive workshops to provide parents with insights and information given by expert professionals, to offer parenting tips and tactics they can use at home. These tips help to build a constant stream of attention and support for children, and practical advice to manage the sometimes “straining” times one has with children.
I am so pleased that Beit Rabban, the school we chose for our children, hosts these workshops. I've been to parenting workshops in the past and have always found them be adequate yet not as all-encompassing as these workshops. As my kids are well into their toddlerhood, I am always concerned about their emotional and social development, and try to make sure that I do not “scar” them for life because I frighten them into going to bed. I am so relieved that my sons' future school is such a strong advocate for fulfilling the students’ emotional and social needs, that they have taken it a step further by involving the parent body and community at large. That is impressive.
As for the advice given at the lecture, I found myself critically reassessing my parenting but in a positive way. Connect and always be present for your children is Dr. Laura's number one rule. Naturally, being a mom of twin boys in New York City has me running in fifteen different directions. But, right now, they are putting on a live show and I am their only audience. If I am not paying attention, they will find a way to get me to pay attention. And it might not be at the most convenient time. Such as in a crowded grocery store while I am waiting in line to pay for my groceries. Dr. Laura explained, as the day rolls on, if they felt like they haven’t received enough attention, their emotional “reserves” are running on empty. This leads to tantrums, since they are not able to fully express themselves. If I would have given them real quality attention hours ago, I wouldn't be out ten bucks for that new toy I had to buy to bribe them to sit quietly in the stroller. (and I have to buy double!)
I was also surprised to learn that tickling or “rough housing” your child truly can relieve their stress (and yours!). Children need an outlet to release their anxieties and fears and sometimes the best way to keep those emotions in check is a visit from the tickle monster. The next day after the lecture I tested out the theory. Getting my kids to bed is always a challenge, especially when they are overtired. So, after failed attempts to get one of my kids to sleep peacefully, I merely just hugged him and tickled his tummy. He stopped crying and started laughing hysterically. After a few minutes of “tickle torture” his demeanor significantly calmed down. He was quiet and ready for sleep. And that delicious sound of silence slowed my heart rate to a resting pulse.
I am grateful that Beit Rabban has many more parenting workshops lined up in the coming months. I plan on attending as many as I can and will highly recommend them to more of my friends. I am looking forward to my relationship with Beit Rabban this coming September. I know our children will be well taken care of and my husband and I will be better parents as a result.