Parenting On “Vacation”
Aug 18, 2011 - 09:20 AM
We just got back from “vacation.” And when you “vacation” with a child, you really do need to put it in quotations, because it’s not really a “vacation.” It’s a “vacation.” You’re not lounging by the pool reading a juicy novel and sipping an umbrella drink. And even if you are poolside, there’s no lounging. When you “vacation” with kids, you are On. The. Go.
And, as I recently discovered, you are On. The. Job. Vacationing with kids is a 24-hour parenting gig. Not only are there no breaks in your day, but when you’re in a giant amusement park, you kinda have to be extra vigilant. Where are they? What are they doing? Are they crawling on or hanging from places or things they shouldn’t?
During our “vacation,” I noticed I was aware of my parenting – more so than I am in my regular life. I have no idea why. But I noticed that I relied on a couple of old chestnuts and one new trick I’d heard about recently.
1. Allow my child to make choices all throughout the day, choosing from a finite amount of selections. And when giving her a choice, I’d better be happy with either outcome.
2. Unlike the military, ask – don’t tell. Don’t ask her to do something, tell her. As in, “Can you finish your milk?” “Would you put away your toys for me?” This gives them the idea that they have control and a choice. And really…they have neither. You aren’t asking them, you’re telling them: “Finish your milk” or “Put away your toys.”
3. Use positive language. This might be the best advice I ever got from someone else’s parent – and quite possibly the most difficult. This mom said that her parents tried to always use positive language around her and her siblings – they didn’t use words like “don’t,” “can’t” or “stop.”
She thought it helped her grow up with better self-esteem and a more positive self-image. So I’ve been trying to say “let’s do this instead” rather than “don’t do that” more often.
And let me tell you – it’s easier said than done! But I do find that my daughter seems to listen to me more. And she esponds better when I put more effort into why she shouldn’t be doing something other than hearing me say my usual, simple, “don’t do that.”
Now that we’re back from “vacation,” I could use a real vacation. One of those juicy novel by the pool deals, where I can relax and unwind. A place where I don’t have to worry about finite choices. A place where I can ask questions. Questions like, “May I have another umbrella drink, please?”
Yeah…like that’s gonna happen.