Posts Tagged ‘attachment parenting’

These two decided to get their hair cut today.

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Matching chin length bobs. Very exciting.

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Especially exciting for Jay, because she’s never had her hair cut in a salon before.

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After losing on the rock-paper-scissors decision…

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she waited patiently for her turn…

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And then, there she was, getting her hair cut!

It was all a little surprising to me, because this was the girl who ran shrieking from me all of last year when I even mentioned the idea of trimming her split ends. She was never, never, ever going to get her hair cut, nobody could make her do it, she looooved her long hair, and how dare I even suggest a new style. I had accepted the fact that she would be the little wild child that walked around with uncombed, unwashed, tangled, disheveled, stringy hair, and had given up hoping that I could ever convince her to cut it.

Which she must have sensed.

She woke up this morning and announced that she wanted her hair cut. Immediately. After a phone call to her friend, she called the salon, and arranged to be squeezed in that afternoon. All I had to do was walk them down there.

Looking at how pleased she is in the After picture, my guess is that I did the right thing by yet again letting this little one call her own shots. She likes to do things when she’s ready to do them, and not a minute sooner. If I had insisted on a cut even last week, it would have been a very different face looking up at my camera. I’m liking the pride I see in this one.

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These last few months that the kids have all been in school have been eye-opening for me.

Sometimes when I was homeschooling, I second guessed. I wondered whether the kids were really getting out of it what I thought they were. My gut said yes, but there was no real proof, no way to be sure. I knew that the kids were doing just fine in terms of knowledge base, and I knew that they were well-liked kids, that they got along with other kids, that they had all sorts of interests and were getting a lot of time outside, that they got along well with each other, that they had lots of free time, and that they were happy.

But would things really be all that different if they were in school?

What I’m discovering is that homeschooling provided something that went beyond an individualized curriculum, beyond time for them to pursue their own interests. It provided them with an environment that fed their need for connection.

They say that right now they’re kept busy all day long, and that they’re surrounded by other kids all day long, but that they feel really alone. They enjoy being with other kids, and aren’t having particular problems, but they have a constant nagging sinking feeling. They’re describing a loss of connection with their home base. With me. With their brothers and sisters. L went to school last year, but she was right down the street, so she came home for lunch every day, had extra time in the morning to hang out, and had an hour after school with the rest of us before diving. That was enough to keep her fueled for her time away. Now she doesn’t have that, and she’s feeling the loss. Tee seems to be suffering the most. I had that heart wrenching conversation with him a couple of weeks ago at bedtime, when he told me how he felt like we were all drifting apart, and I thought it had mostly to do with our crazy evening schedule. Now I realize that he was talking about the whole day.

I wonder if this feeling of isolation, this craving for contact with their attachment figure(s) is particularly pronounced for them because they have two homes. Or maybe they are aware of the contrast between what it used to be like and what it is now. They have a basis for comparison, and they know what they’re missing.

Some people reading this might say that maybe my children are abnormally attached. That by homeschooling them I’ve delayed their independence, or stunted their development. But I think that my kids are just verbalizing what many children feel. My forays into the 1/2/3 classroom this year showed me how much the younger children crave physical contact, even with me, an adult they hardly know. I think that our culture asks too much of young children when it expects them to be away from their attachment figure(s) for six hours every day.

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I think I’ve stumbled across the best disciplinary tactic ever. It’s devilishly simple and tremedously effective. I’ve never read about it in any parenting book, so I thought I’d write about it in case it works for someone else.

When one of the kids does something he/she knows is against house rules (like hurting a sibling physically or emotionally) I tell them that they’re clearly having difficulty managing to control their behaviour and that I’ll need to help them with it, which means that for the next day (or more) they’ll have to stay with me every single minute. Which of course rules out playing with friends, or playing outside. It also means that they end up helping me with all of my work, because it’s either that or sit there watching me do it.

I’ve done this several times now since I first tried it back in February and it works a charm. By the end of the imposed time period, the grumpy, recalcitrant child in question is not only well-behaved, but also polite, gracious, affectionate, and happy to the point of being ebullient. It’s almost a magical transformation.

I think it’s all about attachment. Instead of being sent to his/her room, instead of being isolated, the child is drawn closer, being told that he/she is stilll loved, even if a mistake was made. On top of that, they get to atone for the misdeed by doing work, and get to hear praise for doing well. They end the day feeling like they’ve done retribution, and that the slate has been wiped clean. They also end up talking about why/how it all happened, how they were feeling at the time, and how to manage those feelings in the future. I genuinely feel good about that child again, the two of us feel close, feel like a team, plus I get help with housework AND that child gets a good dose of reality in terms of how much I do around here when they’re off playing, which just increases their sense of appreciation and improves their behaviour all around.

Yesterday one of the kids had an angry outburst that culminated in behaviour that shocked us all, so that particular child (I won’t name names) spent the day with me today.

Knowing that I had this misbehaver on my hands, I decided to tackle some jobs that have been on the list for a while so we:

  • did several loads of laundry
  • vacuumed the muddy front entrance
  • mopped the kitchen floor
  • organized the closet that was chest deep in winter coats
  • brought clean coats up to the attic
  • brought dirty coats to the laundry
  • cleaned out the very crumby utensil drawer
  • sorted a bookshelf
  • tidied the entrance closet
  • pumped up the bicycle tires
  • hacked ice off the walk

and the child in question came on a 5km bike ride while I did my run.

It was a productive, fun day and it sure beat sending the grumpy one to his/her room to feel like a victim and stew about the unfairness of it all.

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