I have a policy where I try not to offer advice unless it was asked for. This even goes towards my kids. My parents do this with me and I truly appreciate it...but I gotta tell you, it's difficult. SO, all that advice that I have running rampant in my brain is now going to be spilled out onto my blog so I can move on.
#1 Don't give advice unless you are asked for it. Seems like I just said that, doesn't it. Well, it's good advice. If you want a person to feel safe with you, be that safe person. Just listen. Emphasize with them. Offer encouraging words. Example: Shem, "Mom, Todd never plays anything I want to play." Me, "That's frustrating, isn't it." Shem, "Yes!" Simple, yet effective. Example of someone asking for advice, "What would you do."
#2 Allow natural consequences. Example: I tell Todd to be careful when using the chair as an aide in climbing the tree because the chair might tip. Todd comes running into the house holding a scratched up leg. I clean out the wound, put a band-aide on it and give him a hug. I DO NOT say, "That's what you get for not listening to me. I told you what would happen." Again, simple. Yet, it requires you to hold your tongue. I think the blood oozing from his knees is enough. Your natural instinct is to say, "Nah! Nah! I told you so." You are not a child, you are an adult.
#3 When your child ask you to come and look. Go and look! That means that your child thinks you are cool enough that they want to impress you. So, let them impress you. It doesn't take that long to stop what your doing for a minute and see what your child is doing. You are their biggest fan--and they want to keep it that way.
#4 Don't sweat the small stuff. Do you really want your life to be a constant battle? Neither do I. So make a choice to let it go. Throwing rocks, not a good idea. Throwing stuffed animals-okay. You are carving a grown-up. Do you want that grown-up to wound-up tight like Shem's shoelaces, or do you want them to enjoy life and to smile often?
#5 Love your child. Kids act out for a reason. Geneva was a cranky pants this week because she had to share my attention with a couple other kids (her brothers). All she needed was 5 minutes of one-on-one and she was okay. Yelling got me nowhere....Well, that's not true; I, too, reached Crankiville. When Todd is hyperventilating about something, it only takes a calm parent to bring him back to his sweet self. When Shem is cranky, he just wants someone to acknowledge his feelings. SO SIMPLE!!!