We step like we speak

What does confidence look like? What does success look like? If I were to ask you what do you think the best parents look like, what comes to mind? Well, you may be surprised to know that more often then not, the “best” is a work in progress!! Most dads I’ve spoken to tell me that they are always reading, listening and looking for a better way to engage their children. A “better” way, see this word is important “better”… the better way IS the best way by design as it’s not a way you’re currently looking. We step like we speak, when we are sure we tred with confidence, while unsure we tred lightly… 

We all get to a point where we feel helpless and that nothing we do is working, this is when we divide into two groups: those who give in, and those who reach out. When your repeatedly asking your child to stop doing something you’re speaking in concept. Fresh 2-3year old brains don’t understand stop the way we do, or understand no the way we do necessarily. That’s why you accompany this word with an action and a sound(think stomping your foot when you say “no!”) it’s sensory experience… the word is meaningless next to the sound and tone. Think about the last time you watched a horror movie, the creepy music, sound design… it’s all tonal and sensory… then there’s the redirect. Redirecting takes lots of practice as well, reading and learning plus the application of the process takes a steady hand and lots of practice.

Imagine traveling to a foreign country, you’ve got a basic idea of how to say a few things in the local tongue and then you stumble onto a person who speaks a different dialect of that same language and puts emphasis on different parts of the words. It throws off your whole flow of conversation!! But, you’re standing there, you decide maybe if I say it louder and slower it’ll translate… nope.. lol. So, what’s your next move? Flipping through the manual or the app that translates for you, right?! Yes!! See the internet allows for us to be able to communicate in a variety of ways, but the trouble is we tend to not bother to commit any of those things to memory because they exist in a space we can access at any time. So, our short term memory has no use to file this information to our long term memory. As we are teaching our children to listen, learn and apply- the trick is consistency!! That means, we need to try and commit all these things to memory for us to recall them readily. This is crucial!!! Redirection almost has to become muscle memory, like a reflex for it to work best. We all know a couple sit ups won’t give you 6pack abs so we have to keep on working them. It takes patience and time. Lots of time!! It’s also very frustrating to be in that space where kiddo is crying or unfolding all the clothes you just washed/folded while their peanut butter and jelly hands are all gooey and getting all over you neatly folding laundry… yep… and it’s only 9am… But, the good news is there are resources available and most of them are FREE!!! We’ve got to get beyond the stigma that asking for help is a weakness. 

Beginnings in partnership with CAPCC has a fatherhood consultant who facilitates groups on the first and second Tuesday of each month at the Headstart buildings of Johnstown and Ebensburg. This means that fathers or any adult male in the child’s life can meet and hold conversations with other dads regarding their experiences with their children. There are also groups within the community that facilitate similar groups and activities that also put into practice all sorts of ways to engage your children to help with the formative years of learning and growing. The only “wrong” way is no way! Raising kids is difficult for most, it’s often referred to as “karma” for some of us!! The truth of the matter is there’s a way, and lots of time and attention has been invested in that way. Be it evident based research or research based evidence, these programs are designed to open your mind as well as apply your input in a creative space that allows for mistakes to be made and growth to be attained. Let me clarify “mistakes”: some folks don’t know the ages and stages of child development, as a result they compare their children’s development to the nearest child in their orbit. If your child is not performing at that level, or is outperforming a particular child, things tend to get dicey… So, what happens is a chart is produced and a comparison is made, or an ASQ is performed and a score is attained. Hard data essentially that helps with the milestone measurement and if necessary addressing the issue as it falls into 5categories. Fine motor, Gross motor, social-emotional, communication, and personal-social. Depending on when/how these tests are applied, it’s been my experience anyway, that sometimes the personal-social number is reflected by how the child’s temperament develops(aka shy kids score low if they haven’t warmed to the person giving the questionnaire) Point being, many things go into these scores and many things can be gleaned from them, but a whole bunch of really smart people wrote these things to help us put our minds at ease!! 

Remember earlier when i mentioned about being in a foreign country, please understand that none of these examples are meant to imply that reaching out will only lead you to a world where people are speaking a language you don’t understand, or using methods only they can interpret! Not so! All of this is done by parents just like you, using all of our own questions and mistakes coupled with the knowledge we now possess and wish to share. So, rest assured that as you move toward picking up the phone, a warm response is waiting and a helping hand is reaching out to guide you through what is mostly one of the most magical things we get to experience in our lives!! It may seem like a pain at times, but the time you take putting in your love and kindness mixed with information and practice, you are giving your child a gift that can only be purchased with time well spent… (::)