So, I will continue my ravings on the wisdom of Diane Moore, her recent talk at Mom to Mom and her book "Parenting the Heart of Your Child" with this little installment:
She talks about how to form health bonds with your kids. The image she showed us was a triangle cut into three shelves, much like you would see in a healthy food pyramid. Each of the three shelves has its own word:
"Bond" is at the top, smallest part of the triangle, and "boundaries" is at the wide bottom shelf. Her suggestion is that in order to create strong bonds with your kids, you must start at the bottom of the triangle and create boundaries. Lots and lots of healthy, firm, loving boundaries. This establishes a sense of security and safety, and also teaches the child how to create their own healthy, safe boundaries.
The next step toward healthy, strong bonds is to give the child responsiblities. This, I think, communicates to your child that you trust them with that responsiblity. Bonds then come quite naturally in an atmosphere of loving boundaries and trusting relationships. I have a perfect example of how this worked in our house just this week:
I have been feeling a bit under the weather lately and really needed some help from my oldest child (6.5yo) when it came to dinnertime. I have many times had my two oldest boys set the table for dinner but always have to walk them through every single step. What is more, my oldest is often times overly concerned that his younger brother is not doing as much as he is required to do, and "why do IIIIIIII-EEEE have to do it?" etc., etc.
One afternoon, when it was just the two of us for a few moments, I told him I had a new thing I needed him to do. "What do I HAVE-TA do?" was his slightly annoyed response. "Oh no, sweetie, you don't Have-ta, you Get-ta!" His countance changed immediately and he was interested, "What do I get-ta do?" "Well this thing is, like, a seven-year-old sort of thing. Do you think you can do it?" With puffed-out-manly-chestedness he said yes. I explained that his seven-year-old job was to set the table all by himself, without my help to tell him "next the plates...now the cups...now the napkins... Do you think you could do this?" The next night I had him draw what he thought would go on the table and we talked about that for a bit. The following night I set him to the task, telling him that he was on his own and if he needed help reaching anything (and he would) he could just ask me and I would gladly get down for him.
It might seem like a little thing, but handing over the full responsiblity must have communicated trust because he could not be more pleased with this task that he had previously complained nightly about. I was astonished, quite frankly, but I immediately recognized Diane's triangle. And when I was able to praise him for a job well done (never mind the few missing items - that was beside the point), he was all cuddles and sweetness.
Thanks again, Diane, for another nugget of parenting GOLD!