Positive changes in family life

Parents who participate in the coaching program are encouraged to write a weekly journal to keep track of their learning and progress, and at the end of the program, they write a summary of the changes they have experienced during the 8 weeks. The following is a summary written by a mother who has two boys of 4 and 5 years old. 

1) How did the child change? – What are some ways the child has changed? You might think in terms of actions, beliefs, patterns, and relationship.

We have definitely seen improvement in the behavior that Arthur and Joshua have exhibited in the weeks during and following the coaching sessions.

Specifically with Arthur, we have noticed that he has much improvement in expressing his negative emotions verbally, rather than screaming, making demands, grunting and having a tantrum. He expresses how his is angry, jealous, afraid, etc, especially when we probe and prompt him. His heart also seems to be much more penitent and apologetic when he has had a tantrum of screaming and yelling when he does not always get his way, and he is often quick to apologize and say he is sorry. We can see that he generally has an obedient heart and is often truly sorry for his outbursts.

He has also improved in his table presence during meals. He still plays with his food when he is bored or full, but the throwing and spitting has decreased. He still spits or throws utensils and food when he is extremely angry, but it has decreased in the last few weeks, especially as we have let him know that that behavior signals no more food. But we have also improved in our expectations for meals and do not pressure ourselves or them to eat everything on their plates everyday.

Arthur’s wake up from naps have improved slightly with lots of physical hugs and affirmations, especially when he wakes with nightmares. I try to be present and available when he wakes up from naps to greet and hug him as he is waking up, and it seems to have helped a bit with the screaming. He still comes into our bedroom in the middle of the night when he wakes and gets scared, but we try to take him back to his room while affirming him. He generally only comes in once these days (down from 2-3x before) and we let him sleep with the lamp on, which seems to help.

The last few weeks the relationship between us and Arthur has seemed to improve in terms of closeness and intimacy. He has started saying “I love you guys!” when we give him kisses and hugs before bedtime and we definitely hug and laugh a lot more and we try to savor and enjoy more silly moments with each other as a family.

Both boys have been better in getting ready to get out the door in a timely manner, and Arthur in particular has made quite a lot of improvement.

Joshua has also improved alongside his brother. In particular, once we let him know that he is whining and badgering us, he generally stops and makes a request rather than a demand. Sometimes when we also deny his request and tell him the conversation is over, he will protest, but will generally relent.

While Joshua still has some difficulty in managing his emotions (anger, jealousy, sadness, impatience, etc.) once we take him for a break and a talk, he is able to regain his composure after some time, and he is cooperative in rejoining family activities. The break seems to be quite effective for both Arthur and Joshua in helping them to calm down.

Joshua has also exhibited much more independence in the last few weeks in terms of getting dressed independently and getting ready to go out the door, using the bathroom and washing hands.

Joshua also seems to have bonded more with his father in the last few weeks, and has even requested time with Daddy instead of Mommy for certain fun activities. This is a breakthrough as we have had challenges in dealing with Joshua’s preference of only having Mommy do things with and for him instead of others or Daddy.

2) What did you learn? – In what ways have you made changes in your parenting? You might consider actions, patterns, and beliefs.

For us, definitely one of the key concepts was to try to take the emotionality out of the parenting moment, especially as we learned how counterproductive things end up. I have learned that I need to take a break often each day, and that yelling and screaming in frustration and anger ultimately damages my relationship with the boys. I have learned that anger and disappointment are important red flags to demonstrate wrong behavior, but that emotions should not be used to solve problems. I have also learned that pushing and sometimes provoking the boys (particularly Arthur) often results in outbursts.

I am also working on decreasing the amount of nagging and shouting/yelling, and it has definitely made a big difference in my own emotional well-being and self-control. While occasional outbursts still happen, the frequency has definitely decreased significantly in the last few weeks/month.

Another key concept for us was to show and explain the “right way” to do things, and to teach specifically how to do something the “right way” and especially to practice doing things the right way. We have been doing this and it really does work! The “how would you do things differently next time” question posed to the boys really does make them think and further cement right and wrong approaches to problems and concepts.

3) What would you like to change or do differently? – Make observations that contain new goals, methods, or approaches both for you and your child.
A few new things to try or change include:
– Shaping and equipping the child to gain an independent, responsible mindset. It is very tempting to expedite by doing things for them and on occasion that is acceptable but part of the new rhythm of routines is to encourage them to “seize” the opportunity to grow.
– Spiritually, building prayer, scripture and worship needs to be in the daily rhythm. Similar to food and sleep being “necessary”, instilling a connection and reliance on God needs to happen at this formative stage
– Shaping the boys to have a giving, caring and hosting mindset versus a consumer mindset or one that seeks to extract or maximize one’s gain. An immediate step is to have them help set the table and when the grandparents are visiting, to serve them a beverage.

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