I just finished babysitting my friend’s children, and she has most definitely mastered the no spanking/alternative discipline route. I always talk about taking it because I don’t believe in abusing children, but I’ve never personally seen it in action by a Black parent. Her children are 2 and 5 and they are the kindest, nicest toddlers I’ve ever met. They listen to her because she’s their mom and they automatically recognize she’s important and she gives them what they want (love and affection and rewards). In return they like to clean for her and give her artwork and cuddles all of the time.
To get them to listen to her, she makes sure to listen to them and what they’ve got to say instead of telling them to shut up all the time. The 5 year old asked her a few months ago why you can’t eat food that was on the floor after picking up food on the floor, and she explained it calmly and clearly. He asked 4 other questions after that and she answered all of them. He was satisfied and happy with the answers, and ever since he hasn’t done those things. She lets them gush and gush about Hot Wheels or Team Umizoomi and engages with them and counts with them and everything, so they never feel alone or neglected enough to not want to obey.
My friend lets them make mistakes by themselves on the rare chance they don’t listen so they can learn from them and let that be punishment enough. For example, the younger one we’ve been telling not to go near the dog cage because he doesn’t like dogs. He went near it a while ago, got his hand licked, freaked out, and hasn’t been anywhere near it since. The board on the wall that she uses has a column for each boy horizontally, and vertically are all the traits she wants them to have, like being nice, listening to her and their teachers, eating their food, cleaning up, having manners, etc. They get a sticker whenever they do it for the day, and they lose all their stickers when they break a habit. That’s enough punishment for them, so they don’t break it.
When they wake up, it’s cleanup time, or bedtime, she plays what she calls “musical habits”. She puts on a playlist of their favorite songs (it’s like 20-25 minutes) that make them feel motivated, and they should be finished getting ready or cleaning by the time the last song is over. If they’re not, they get a toy from their toy bin taken away or an Oreo from their snack bag taken out (aka eaten by her). But she hasn’t ever gotten to that because they always finish. They don’t even like hearing the consequences lol. And I just wanted to say I really enjoyed seeing good parenting by a Black woman that wasn’t abusive or harmful to the child’s development, it gave me inspiration and hope. Just had to talk about it somewhere.
I wrote this post about a year ago. Since then, I’ve become the godmother to both of these babies, and they are STILL so well behaved. I babysit from time to time. They’re also enrolled in Montessori programs.
She’s now teaching them about mindfulness, Spanish, self care, and cooking. They have little yoga mats and practice breathing in and out with her every morning, and then they do affirmations together. I visited them a while back and they have a new board up! She created a system where they’re challenged with the task to do something nice for each other or for someone else every week. With this challenge they’re instructed to use their listening skills to figure out what that person might want or need, and then figure out how they should react. The only reward at the end of the week is a big hug and some snacks, and every month, she lets them have a movie day if they’ve done really well.
She’s also making them use their words when they’re upset instead of grumbling in silence. Her oldest one was notorious for that. She made up a little saying to remind him: “Mommy can’t help if Mommy doesn’t know.” It’s forced him to explain why he’s upset and that gives them a chance to have an actual conversation about it. Now they talk about ANYTHING. If they don’t feel like talking at that moment and they express that, she’ll lead them to their playroom and turn their favorite show on or let them meditate or draw until they’ve cooled down. She also accepts letters if they just didn’t want to use their words. It was so good to watch.
By the way, I got many messages about this post asking me to ask my friend where she learned these techniques. She said that she wrote down all the ways her parents hurt, hindered, or stunted her developmental growth and then wrote down ways they could’ve approached it better or loved her better. That second list is her guideline.
1. You’re turning over a new leaf and writing on a fresh, clean page.
2. A grateful, thankful heart will bring you peace and happiness.
. You choose your thoughts and what you meditate upon.
4. An optimist heart will help you persevere and win.
5. You have the power to leave a lasting influence.
6. Forgive - and do your best to relinquish what is past.
7. A patient hopeful heart will increase peace and confidence.
a gentle reminder that you did well this year. you met new people, learned new things and felt new feelings. you did so many things that made you scared. you picked yourself up off the floor after feeling completely defeated or heartbroken. there were some really tough nights but you survived them all. you made people happy just by existing. you accepted many goodbyes but the serendipitous meetings made up for them. it was your own hard work that paid off but you always downplay it or compare yourself to others. that’s not fair on yourself. you’ve come so far from the first day of this year. you have more wisdom and strength now. yes, other people seem more “successful” but does that even matter? please don’t think so lowly of yourself to only think about your failures. 2018 was your year of growth. I hope you take a moment to be kind to yourself, and believe that 2019 will be even better.