(...and horse ones too ;). Recently, Daddy took the girls for an afternoon at the barn. It's been cold, it's been muddy, we've rushed in and out of feeding times quickly with only a quick hello to the animals while we water, feed, and quick-clean-up for several weeks now. Naturally our young horse, Serendipity has grown a little "wild" because of our neglect in working with her. This Saturday morning Mike with his "let's get it done", in-charge attitude, was going to remind her who was boss- or at least get a halter on her. Mike tried several times to put the halter on, but she would toss up her head with a defiant "just try it" in her eyes, stomp her feet and turn her bottom-end on him (HOW RUDE! ...and unacceptable!). Mike thought there was no way we'd get a halter on her ever again. He went back to work watering animals and while he's busy, 11 year old Mikela steps up gently to Dip, pets her nose and talks to her softly, Mikela then holds out the halter and Dipity put her head down to make it easier for Kea to fasten the clip. "Voila", the halter was on. Mike couldn't believe his eyes. He was still shaking his head when he got home to tell me all about it. I could only smile. I had seen Mikela since Dipity's birth offer her solid, still, quiet, confident, gentle friendship. Mikela, much braver than I would like her to be, had worked with Dipity enough to gain her trust, perhaps even her love.
Recently, we overcame Esther's terribly terrible mornings! Grouchy, grumpy, fighting, yelling, crying, stamping, running away and refusing to clothe had left all of us aghast while we were late many mornings just trying to get Est out of the house. Yes, 7:30 am is early to be out for a little kindergarten kid; and mornings have never been Esther's forte, but this really was amazing to all of us and horrible as well. What to do. I must admit in my deep need for a break and some replenishment one night after the kids went to bed I hoped for something helpful and new to see or read. I turned to BYUTV and tuned into the half hour on parenting that happened to be on. I really listened - and LEARNED!!! The spokesman was talking about how to bring walls down with teens, to keep communication open and the parent/child relationship alive and well. I was pleased with the topic, for I suddenly have 3 (soon 4) teens on my hands and could use all the help I could get, right? This man named four keys:
1) LOVE THEM!!! nothing brings down walls faster; say it and let them feel it from you.
2) Trust them; trust is a gift you give, not something they earn. You have to give a little to let the bridge be built from you to them.
3)set limits because you love them and want to keep them safe and happy - state expectations and follow through on them; recognize the children when they do follow through (with a curfew, or acted responsibly in calling you, or did what you asked).
4) Praise them - praise is like air for the soul, the man said (wish I could give credit but I only caught "Brad" as his name, I believe).
I liked his list. I thought it was true. So I recommitted to doing those things. I decided to start with the first; showing more love. I would experiment with my hardest case (NOT a teenager, just a tiny kindergartner trying to wake up for school); I would try literally melting Esther with love, and see how it went in the mornings.
Boy, was I surprised. It worked, the very first morning. That must be a fluke, she must have just woken up in a good mood (after all, I'm a fairly loving mother fairly all the time, right?) The second morning, I tried the same approach, going in to wake her up with only LOVE, and wow! Esther responded happily and cooperatively. It was WONDERFUL!! In fact, by the third morning it already felt like habit. She hopped up faster and happier than the day before. I could not believe it myself, I was SO EMBARRASSED! (And, as usual, reminded that most of our children's issues really begin somewhere with us. I hate that.) I had not even realized how I had just jumped in every morning with "Hurry!- time to get dressed! Wake up! - here's your clothes! C'mon, Gotta go!" etc.. I hadn't realized how little Esther had felt LOVED -at least in the morning! (OK, mornings have never been my thing either but I didn't think I was THAT BAD!)
So I learned, or remembered, as most of us do from time to time, that really the key to relationships ... from horses to teens to toddlers and poor kindergartners that have to wake up too early and get right out the door to school is LOVE.
I'm so glad my husband is good at remembering that and from the beginning of our marriage has LOVED me! It feels SOOOO GOOD! I want to LOVE my children too.
P.S. If anyone has suggestions of how to let a child feel more loved (especially in difficult situations like busy schedule, or demanding day or even sad time), please let me know under comments. THX!