Friday, December 15, 2017

The bad dream that woke me up

I am an adult, and I still get nightmares.

I'm not sure why my brain decides to chase me around at night with things that are trying to catch me and kill me, or drop me down elevator shafts or see what my last thoughts are when falling out of a flying train...I really wish it would just let me rest, organize the information that I learned during the day and do whatever else it is that scientists think our brains are doing while we sleep.

Granted, they are not often, but there are still some nights when I wake up wondering why my brain is out to get me.

My son, thankfully, doesn't have many bad dreams. At least, he doesn't have the type of bad dreams that require parental intervention. I can recall vividly the number of times when I have woken up to his gentle touch on my arm, telling me that he had a bad dream. We go back to his room, snuggle for a bit and he never wants to talk about them. Not ever.

I'm OK not pushing him to talk about them, as long as he realizes that everyone has bad dreams sometimes. I think the problem is when they become more frequent and we have to sit down and re-evaluate some things. For example, since we are reading the third Harry Potter book together at bedtime right now, I am on high alert for anything that shows me he isn't ready to continue the story (whether he is conscious about it or not). So far, so good.

Nightmares are hard to explain to children. In fairness, they are hard to explain to adults. I am just thankful that my son is easy to convince to go back to sleep so we can all face a happier day in the morning.

How do you help your child after they have a bad nightmare? Tell me in the comments.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Asking your child for their thoughts

I often ask my son what he thinks about things.

Sometimes, this goes really well, and he will give me a great insight into how he is feeling. For example, I had to take him to a religious site for cub scouts over the weekend, and I took him to a Catholic church (he's never been before). I asked him what he was thinking as we approached. He said he had never felt so small.

Sometimes, I get the inevitable "I don't know."

Other times I will get a one word answer and he will somehow redirect the conversation to Minecraft. I am not sure how he does this, but it happens. A lot.

In my head, I get the points for at least asking, and for setting up the precedent. Because I do realize that at one point in the not-too-distant future, I will ask him what he is thinking and he will not want to tell me.

I will admit that the teenage years looming out there both thrill and scare me: They thrill me for the idea that it will be the first time I really see what type of adult my son is becoming, and scare me...for the same reason.

Maybe that is why I absolutely love this article around raising a teenage daughter. A mother wrote the piece and you can click on the highlighted blue phrases to see what her daughter's thoughts/reactions/corrections are to her mother's words. It reads like a conversation between two people who are not in the same room.

And since this is something that all parents want at some point - insight into what their child is thinking - I am considering how my son will react to my words on this blog, in our family journals and scrapbooks in the future. How will he want to annotate them with his thoughts?

I hope none of them contain notes about Minecraft.

How do you get insights into what your child is thinking? Tell me in the comments.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The light from your screens hurts my eyes

We were at dinner in a restaurant.

It wasn't a special dinner or a fancy restaurant, just the three of us having a meal together before going to an event. After we ordered, as is our custom, I pulled out a pack of UNO cards and asked my husband and son if they wanted to play. They (as usual) said yes; we had several rounds of fun beating each other before the food came.

But I was terribly distracted during the game. I was distracted because at the table diagonal from us was a family of five (a mom, dad, and three children) and all of them were using devices. The light from the screens in the dark restaurant was lighting up their faces...and none of them were talking to each other.

The father did stop the server at one point and had a lengthy conversation with her about how he couldn't get onto the Wi-Fi network, but that was really the only person-to-person interaction. When their food came, most of them kept staring at their screens while they ate.

I am not perfect about keeping my device away from me when I don't need it. But, I would like to think that I do a good job of making sure that our family interacts with each other during the times we are together.

I thought a lot about that family as we drove away from the restaurant, and how maybe they had a long day together already and just needed a break, or maybe they spend all their dinners that way or maybe how their devices are so ingrained in their lives that they now have a fear of being away from their smartphones (here's a link with a quiz you can take if that sounds true for you.)

But then I thought about how grateful I am to have my guys with me, who are happy just playing UNO until the meal comes. And maybe, just maybe, another family is watching us at dinner and gets inspired to turn their devices off next time they go out.

What's a way you try to make your family dinners more fun? Share with me in the comments.

Friday, December 8, 2017

I didn't know there was such a thing as time-ins

When I was in elementary school, there was a boy in my class named Tommy who was sent to the corner for a time out at least once a day. Sometimes it was multiple times a day. It got to the point at which my friends and I discussed it and decided that Tommy probably liked being in the corner and all the extra attention and how annoying it was that the teacher didn't notice and come up with a better punishment for his classroom disturbances.

Maybe he needed a time-in instead.

Don't worry, I didn't know what a time-in was either. Evidently, instead of sending your child to a designated spot away from all stimuli (and your talking), a time-in is when you stop all the activity to cuddle the child and help them name their feelings and talk them through what is going on.

I am all for helping children express their feelings accurately, but I will admit that on the occasions when I gave my son a time out, I needed one as well. We both needed that break from one another to calm down so that we could discuss what happened without me yelling at him and without him tuning me out.

I think the key to whatever discipline method you use is that you do it effectively and that you pick the one that your child responds to the most. Otherwise, none of us will learn from our mistakes.

Do you use time outs (or time ins) with your child? Tell me why or why not in the comments.