I told my stepson this summer that I was going to start giving him more attention for things he does that we APPRECIATE. Now, when you read that you may think that we must be a couple of strict, picky, parents. We’re not. But especially with two separate households, the kids can pick up on a lot of habits that wouldn’t be my choice. ahah I’m laughing to myself as I read this. No doubt in my mind that I’ve viewed ‘my choices’ for their lives as the ‘best choice.’
Anyway, I noticed over the summer that he was used to getting more attention for being disruptive, impatient, zoning out, and not following through. I think it sort of became a habit for us to notice and point out those things, so of course it only kept him bringing those attributes on even stronger. I suddenly saw it all for the first time, and made a promise that from now on we were going to notice all the wonderful loving things he does instead.
I may have already written about this, I don’t remember. I haven’t read back on my past blog posts. If I did, bear with me, this leads into where I’m actually headed. ahhah
Back to the story: He was surprised, and could hardly make eye contact when I started complimenting him so often. And I gotta admit, it wasn’t easy at first. I found little things and mentioned them to him. I said things like, ‘Wow, I appreciate that you moved out of the way when that person was walking right in front of you. That shows how aware you are…’ or ‘I’m grateful that you let me see what you’re working on. I love that you want to share things that are important to you.’
After about a day of this, he started to change. A little at a time he began showing up differently. He started using the manners I had asked him to use, he began putting his napkin on his lap in a restaurant, he even brought us kind little gifts that showed he was thinking of us.
He is one week away from starting at his new school, and has already began his computer programming classes, and he has transformed. I feel like I’m getting to know this precious being for the first time. For the past week, as we are putting him to bed, he looks up at me and says, ‘So what was your favorite part of the day for you?’ and ‘What are you most looking forward to?’ He’s courteous and playful and silly and happy and sharing his feelings. Last night I sat on the couch wrapped in my robe with his little head resting on my shoulder. He kept reaching for my hand to hold. I had no idea this little guy was so loving, so kind, so generous and thoughtful.
Isn’t it funny? We always assume that when a kid is ‘acting out,’ they need to learn to be BETTER to be DIFFERENT. But what if we just need to see them more clearly? Because when he’s getting his needs met, he WANTS to be kind, and helpful, and even patient.
Even beyond him, I’m loving the transformation with me. He’s only responding to the changes I’ve decided to make, and it’s completely transforming the way he sees the world and the way I see him.
Ahhhh! Love this parenting thingy.