Rambling

Ok I’m purely going to ramble what’s going on in my head.

I’m starting to understand Jehovahs witness’ a lot more.  I can appreciate that they feel they’ve found something awesome and life-changing, and they want lots of people to know about it.

Combat global warming.

I’d like to change the worlds mind about consuming and living sustainability. I know Sustainability is not yet a mainstream movement, and I’m surrounded by evidence that even when people know about the issues, they mostly go about consuming in the same way, and living a throw-away lifestyle. I can understand that because it’s taken me until now to adopt the principles myself, despite being a aware of many of the issues and potential solutions. It’s all seemed too hard until now, although I’m realising now it was just my resistance to change. My individual effort to use less, wont stop excess consumption. If I decide to give up meat permanently, it will not stop animals being treated inhumanely or killed. The resources are eventually going to diminish within my lifetime, or my children’s, and I don’t know what effect that will have on their quality of life….And so I want to go and knock on everyones door and tell them how they can join me in preserving whats left of the worlds resources.

A selfish part of me thinks that I can just teach my family how to live happily with less, there will be less impact on us even when the world around us begins to suffer, but then I think of life in other parts of the world, where people have less and are subject to horrible governments, wars over land or beliefs, famine, flood and wonder how I can prepare us for that?

I do see a little bit of hope. People get upset when they are faced with the truth of the products they consume. When it appears on our social media radar, we speak out about destruction of our rain-forests rivers and reefs, or live exports of animals, sow stalls etc. It doesn’t seem to twig that these are the end result of our own consumption of gas, coal, petroleum, aluminium, timber, glass, bacon, lamb, chicken, that they consume. The governments are not going to stop approving mines when the demand is so high. Hate coal mines? Consume less power, and while you’re at it the appliances you no longer buy will help to reduce the need to mine for primary resources.

Change management principles would say I need to start by communicating with people to reach a consensus that there is indeed a problem,prepare a compelling case for changing the current way of doing things. No-one likes to have a solution thrust upon them, especially if they perceive that solution to be a sacrifice, So telling them my solutions only creates resistance. Perhaps people just don’t see the gravity of the issue, but likely they have a lot invested in their current way of doing things and my changes could feel like a personal indictment of their choices. If given a personally relevant reason to change, then each person can contribute in their own way toward a solution. Then change management would say I need to allow people to mourn what they are sacrificing. Acknowledge what’s been lost.

I think my own transition over the past year has been made easier because there was never any finality to any of my changes. I always added new things in one at a time, which just crowded out the bad habits. Also allowing myself to “cheat” whenever I wanted. Knowing something wasn’t off the cards forever made me feel less of a sense of loss, and therefore less longing for it.

I think writing this down has made me think about how I have approached this most recent change with my kids – cutting out meat. They’ve tolerated it very well, and they’re already open to diverse foods, but I haven’t really let them own such a big change in their life. It’s been me imposing changes on them, and to an extent that’s going to happen as I’m the shopper and cook around here. It’s also hard to share whats been a lifetime of confronting images and knowledge that’s culminated in this change. Do I really want to show them the truth of what people can do? and if I don’t, I risk them suffering the consequences, and wondering why I didn’t trust them to make their own choice.

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Ending the battle

 

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This mornings battle was getting Joey to eat his lunch. You see he’s a little skinny, and while he’s happy to eat a large variety of foods, he doesn’t spend all that much time eating ANY of them except frozen peas and blueberries. I had served up a toddler version of my lunch, as I always do. Today was zucchini, feta and chicken. He likes all these foods, so it shouldn’t have been a problem, but after a few bites he refuses and asks for milk, or to watch Curious George or just to run around. His mouth clamps shut, hands go up, food goes flying and I get cross. Usually I give up, because eating shouldn’t be a battle, but this morning I remembered that I know how to manage this stuff. I changed my plan, and now I have a happy child and an empty bowl. So, how did I do it? 

Step 1. – Find out what is rewarding to him this very minute. It might not be the same as it was a minute ago, and it may not be what you expected. For this meal it was milk, Pingu, and being pushed in the house on his trike. It doesn’t need to be something you don’t like him to have like lollies. The main condition is that you must be in control of the reward. If they can get it themselves, they wont bother doing what you’ve asked in order to get it. Hold the remote, the brakes, the ball whatever it is that makes the reward function. If you are using a food, make sure you are the only one that can give it.

Step 2. – Give him a taste. Even if you think he doesn’t deserve a ride on the  trike right now, give him a little taste of the good stuff, the reward. Get yourselves out of the battle zone and into relax time. I used to find this bit hard, I didn’t want to treat a child that had been naughty. Even better is to start this process without having had a battle to start with. Anticipate the times when you will need to implement a system. 

 

Step 3. – Pause the reward. Once they notice you’ve stopped/removed the item, make a request of them. Something they will do. Then continue with the reward. This helps them understand the game. First I do this; then I get that. It’s a behavioural contract. Just like getting paid to do work. We like to know “What’s in it for us” and to begin with kids like this to be pretty immediate, not a paycheck at the end of the week.

Step 4. – Expect a little more. The next time I paused the video, or stopped pushing the trike, I fed him a mouthful with lots of feta. His favourite bit. Then got on with the ride. Each time we passed the table I fed another bite, sometimes even two. When he looked interested in something different we moved on with the condition. Yes you can have that. First eat some lunch, then you can watch. Empty bowl.

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This isn’t how I want him to eat his meals. If the food was naturally rewarding to him, I wouldn’t need to do this (and he wouldn’t be so skinny). The end goal is for him to eat what’s given to him, sitting at the table, and be rewarded with simple praise, but I will build to that gradually. A few more mouthfuls each time. Simpler and more mealtime appropriate rewards. Maybe a kiss, and a well done, or a high five if that appeals to him. The point is I got what I wanted and he got what he wanted and the power struggle ended. We both win. Once eating is a non-event for misbehaviour I can move onto another focus at that time. Table manners, using cutlery and cups ect.  When I serve his blueberries I apply the same concept, but the food IS the reward. If you sit, then you get blueberries. If you stand up, I take them away. Easy.

Oh! If it doesn’t work for some reason and they don’t comply, distract them with a completely different activity. NOT the reward. NOT the task. You might not have won, but neither did they. Kids are smart. They remember when they win, and next time they will repeat the infuriating behaviour that gave them power, and then some, until they win again. They’re not intentionally naughty, they’re doing what works.

 

Don’t judge someone because they sin differently than you.

In my head I often have adversarial conversations with imaginary people who disagree with me. “What behaviours do you believe would warrant a smack?” I challenge. “Talking back to or swearing at their parents” I hear in reply.  (ok institutionalise me now) I imagine that in most households where kids swear or talk back, they have heard it around the house from their parents and the other adults in their circles. I think its a bit hypocritical to swear at, yell at, or belittle your kids and not expect them to do the same when they become teens. How you resolve conflict with your husband, family or friends, and how you speak about yourself and others becomes the model by which your children learn.

The flip side to my little rant about spanking is that whenever I feel myself judging others, I stop to see which of those behaviours I display in myself, a habit carried over from the shadow work of Carl Jung. (or from the biblical “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone”)

If I judge others for not providing a role model for respectful conflict resolution, am I guilty of doing the same?  Am I doing all the things that I think a good parent should do to raise a respectful teenager? I’m certainly guilty of raising my voice when my kids don’t ‘get’ something straight away, or shutting them down when I feel like they are an intrusion.

What am I teaching my children? 

  • I want to work on being less critical, or slower to criticise my kids. I think they need more opportunity to get things wrong without feeling smaller for it.
  • I want to yell less when I’m stressed, but I’m glad they see that I can apologise when my response is out of proportion to the cause.
  • Although I don’t recall them seeing much conflict between me and my husband, I would like to think they never see us trying to hurt each other when we disagree.
  • I’d like to make more time to sit and chat with them about little things, and not be too busy or distracted to listen.

I have mostly left the kids to resolve their own disputes between themselves as they’ve gotten older. I hear mutterings and accusations from time to time, but no words that will do lasting damage and certainly no hitting one another. So far, so good.

When I don’t do these things it is more about my stress and lack of composure than any behaviour of the kids, so my resolution would be to work on staying calm and composed in my dealings with my kids.