Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Homeschooling the Strong-Willed Child: Communicating

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I'm convinced that every family has one!  This is the child who is determined, strong-willed, confident, and independent!  We may look at these traits as negatives BUT steered in the right direction can become wonderful qualities.  Welcome back to my series, "Homeschooling the Strong-Willed Child."  In this series I will share with you tips that I have used both in my classroom and home.

Today's tips will be an extension of the previous post, Loving Discipline.  Specifically tips on the first level of discipline, TEACH!  One way that I have been TEACHING my children is how to respond and communicate appropriately.

As soon as communication begins teaching MUST follow.  I found this teaching time beginning as early as when they were sitting in a high chair.  For example, the baby who grunts or has a temper to get another cheerio can be taught to use sign language to communicate please or more.  OR when baby is done eating and wants to play they could be taught the sign for all done.   This teaching takes time and patience.  IT'S GOOD baby is communicating for more food BUT I like to begin gently teaching another way to get food with sign language, such as please or more.  This is done through repetition and modeling.  As soon as the grunting begins I'll demonstrate the appropriate sign or even move the baby's hands to make the sign.  The four signs we used in the baby stage were; more, please, all done, and help.  These were SO helpful and beneficial for my children.  I felt this was the first step in teaching them manners and appropriate communication.  I also feel this is a simple way to establish loving authority over them and teach beginning obedience.

Fast forward to the toddler years when words begin.  Since we have already instilled in them that there is an appropriate way to communicate with sign language now we can help them with the words to say!

We all know the first word our toddler learns is "NO!!!"  We've always corrected a defiant "NO!"  with saying to the child, "You say, yes Mama (or daddy)."  We also encourage it to be said in a tone that is respectful.  I have noticed that sometimes it's mumbled, said in frustration, or anger.  When it is said respectfully I feel like I can see my child's heart being humbled.  The entire face looks different when it is said meaningfully from the heart. 

I like to correct rude phases my children say by giving them the correct words to say that are polite and kind.   For example I often hear, "Let me do it!'  said in a sharp aggressive tone.   I correct my child's words by giving them another polite, calm way to communicate by saying in a calm loving tone, "Say, I would like to try please."  Then I have them repeat it after me.  I do this ALL through the day!!  Here are some other phases I may correct and model....

Child Says: "Get me a _______ (drink, snack, show, ect.)"
Parent: "Say, Mama may I have a drink please."

Child: "It's MINE!"
Parent: "Say, Could I have a turn please."

Child: "GRRRRR!" (noise of frustration)
Parent: "Say, Help please."

Child: "NO!" (in a defiant response to something asked of the child to do)
Parent: "Say, Yes Mama." (then they are expected to obediently complete the task or follow the direction)

The best part of this teaching is SOMETIMES I don't have to tell them what to say correctly because they DO IT automatically.  Occasionally my child might say, "Mama may I have a snack please."  My heart rejoices because they are starting to understand there is a respectful way for us to communicate with one another in our home.  I tell my children, "Mama speaks nice to you so you need to speak nice to mama."  Basically we make it unacceptable to speak unkind or rude in our home and we praise kind, gracious, and polite speaking.

Finally, practicing saying "I'm sorry" consistently and repetitively is a major practice in our home.  I say it to my children, they say it to me, and to one another when appropriate.  "I'm sorry," is another phrase that needs to be said in the appropriate tone.  When we first began teaching this phrase to my daughter she would whisper it to me after a wrong-doing!  She was so young when we started this phrase that I wasn't sure if she really understood it but I knew it was humbling her because she would try to say it as quietly as possible.  Of course I had her say it to me until I could hear it and see that it was said in a manner that was meaningful. 

Through the day I may also discuss why it is important to "speak nice" and why we say "I'm sorry" so when these phases are said there is a heart connection to them!

It's so fun to watch our children learn words and then sentences but along the way we need to TEACH them how to use those words in a helpful, uplifting, and kind way. 

Thank you for joining me on this Series!  Stay tuned for more tips!!

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