Thoughts on the new house

Well, we’ve been living in the new house for *checks watch* wow, 2 months now! So here’s how it’s going:

the house itself is pretty great! We haven’t had any major problems, and it still has that new house feel to it. Vanessa loves her playroom and will happily play in there by herself for a short while, although she also seems to enjoy just running around 🙂 We’ve been enjoying all the extra drawers/cabinets in the kitchen area.

the house is big, like pretty darn big. We successfully hosted most of David’s family for Easter, which is one of the reasons we made the house so big. I do feel somewhat guilty about it, though…

the commute in to work takes right around 20 minutes if traffic is reasonable. I realize in the grand scheme of things this really isn’t bad (hi, friends in Bangalore!) but it is noticeably worse than the seven or so minutes we were used to.

there’s a park really close to our house, which is amazing! We’ve already walked there like ten times with Vanessa 🙂

living in the suburbs has taken some getting used to. I like living in cities, and while Pflugerville is close enough that I can still claim to live in Austin, it’s even further away from downtown and such. Not that we, like, go to downtown more than once in a blue moon, but something about the idea of living in a suburb bothers me. (I’ve been slowly working through this)

we live right down the street from the Mendezes, which is pretty great!

we live further away from everyone else, which is sad 😦

you can see lots of stars at night and it’s really quiet, which is a nice change from the old house!

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind review

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing MindNo-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interesting book! It touches briefly on “natural consequences”, but here are some of the more interesting bits:
– The goal of discipline is to teach, not to punish. Which isn’t to say that you don’t have to punish ever (although natural consequence are best as opposed to punitive ones), but that shouldn’t be your first priority.
– When your kid is experiencing a strong emotion (including a tantrum), the first step should be to connect with them. Probably their “lower brain” is in control, which means being rational with them won’t work, but being firm/yelling at them is just going to scare them. Hold or touch your child, get below their eye level, and comfort them.
– Try not to invalidate their emotions – it’s not really their fault they have strong feelings, it’s where they are in development. (consider how irritating it is if you’re angry and someone says “Hey, there’s no reason to be angry!”) Acknowledge their feelings.
– But how they’re reacting to their emotions may not be OK – i.e. it’s OK to feel really mad, but don’t hit. Instead try to help them find ways of dealing with their anger.
– Talk less in the moment. Listen more to what your child is saying, and let them know that you’re listening by repeating things back to them.
– When your kid does something wrong, ask yourself three questions: Why did my child act this way? What lesson do I want to teach? and How can I best teach it?
– If you’re overly emotional it’s OK to stop the bad behavior but withdraw and collect yourself before going through those steps.
– It talks about being consistent but not rigid. You should set consistent rules but it’s OK to make exceptions for special occasions (especially when you’re traveling!) (this is a fine distinction that I’m not sure I 100% understand)
– The book has an interesting view on tantrums. The usual advice I’ve read is to not engage and just ignore the tantrum until it’s done. This book says that almost all tantrums are caused by emotions in the “lower brain” that kids can’t consciously control, and it’s important to show your child that you love and support them even when they do bad things, so still try to connect with them. But it’s OK to stop them from throwing things, etc. A useful phrase I saw is “I see you’re having trouble controlling your body, so I’ll help you with that”.
– For older kids, having a discussion about why they did what they did and how they can make things right is far superior to lecturing them. You want your kid to learn these skills for herself. Plus if you lecture/punish them the focus quickly becomes “My parents are the worst!” instead of “I feel bad because I did something wrong”. (and you want them to feel a little bad!)
– If kids are acting up, odds are it’s because they’re either Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired (HALT!)

Thankfully the book acknowledges that it’s hard to take this approach, but the more you do it the more your child will learn to handle her emotions.

Anyway, it’s worth a shot. We’ve just started disciplining Vanessa a little bit. If this approach actually works I’ll come back in 3 years and update the review to 5 stars 🙂

(thanks to Patrice for lending it to us!)

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