Due to a burn ban in Austin, the only fireworks we saw and heard on July 4th were on Katy Perry’s music video:
The funny thing is, every time I hear the song, I am reminded of my own little FIREWORK, who is sometimes prone to her own colorful explosions. However, the lyrics of the song are very inspirational in terms of promoting and accepting the uniqueness and “spark” of each of our children. I appreciate how fortunate I am to have the privilege of parenting my girls, with all of their quirks (we all have our quirks!). This is not to say I never feel depleted, exhausted, and hopeless. But, the more I focus on the negative feelings that can be a natural part of parenting, the more I experience and dwell on the negative.
I’ve been reading, “From Difficult to Delightful in Just 30 Days: How to Improve the Behavior of Your Spirited Child,” by Jacob Azerrad, Ph.D. One aspect of the book I really like is the focus on the positive behaviors your child demonstrates. The author asks parents to keep a diary, listing positive behaviors in three categories: taking disappointment calmly, sibling caring, and ‘Mother Teresa’ behavior (positive awareness of others). I’ve found that the more I focus on these positive behaviors in my children, and give them positive verbal reinforcement for these behaviors, the more they do them! It’s B.F. Skinner’s dream (famous behaviorist)! Dr. Azerrad also advocates for the traditional time-out procedure for undesirable behaviors, which I suggest parents can adapt to their own particular preferences or needs. He then suggests adapting a “nurture response,” in which the parent takes the child aside and praises him/her for a positive act exhibited earlier in the day, and then spends at least 10 minutes of quality time with the child. We have yet to try this in a formal way, although I feel we are already doing this step in various forms (but perhaps could do more of it!).
Dr. Azerrad’s respectful approach with children stands in stark contrast to other methods of behavior control that seem to result in feelings of fear and shame for the child (e.g. corporal punishment). It also calls to my attention the other positive qualities of my child with SPD: creativity, energy, exuberance, a keen sense of observation, and spark!
Baby, you’re a firework!