This parenting thing gig is exhausting.
I’m continually reading, watching videos, and listening to the experts to find ways to be a better momma. After 25 years with that title, I still feel like I could learn something new every day.
My son has trouble switching from gym class back to regular class time at school. I’ve read numerous books and articles on the subject and tried dozens of techniques until I ran across the hot cocoa method in an article on the web. Cup your hands like you are holding a cup of hot cocoa and then blow on it to cool it down. This worked for him like magic.
When dealing with a meltdown, I read about having a reflection time, for every time you have to tell your child something not to do, tell them they have now earned 8 minutes of reflection time, if they continue, then 16, and again, 24 (I use their age and we get good at adding). They serve said reflection times when the meltdown is over and then you can talk calmly about it.
One day I was scrolling through Facebook and saw an ad about helping your child with meltdowns (it was almost like someone heard me discussing this with my husband). It was a free webinar and although I knew the goal was ultimately for me to buy something, I thought I would tune in and I was blown away. I grabbed all the free knowledge I could and shared it with so many people already.
The presenter shared that children have two buckets that need to be filled.
There is a power bucket and an attention bucket. Our job as parents is to help them fill both.
The power bucket enables them to make decisions and choices on their own to make them feel like they have power or empowers them to make the choices. The attention bucket is when your child wants attention and they will behave with good choices or bad choices to get said attention.
So when your child has a behavior that you may not like, take a second to think about what bucket needs to be filled. Are they asserting their independence and do they need to be able to make a choice and fill their power bucket? Or are they trying to get your attention and they need you to stop all you are doing and give them 100% of your attention? This stop-and-pause has given me the opportunity to see what bucket needs to be filled and then decide the best way to fill it.
For my 5-year-old, it is as simple as not arguing about what shoes to wear for school but rather, letting him pick out his own shoes for the day. It could be as simple as letting him pick out the books we read at night or what he will wear to school the next day. I fill his attention bucket when I sit down and play Batman with him.
For my 9-year-old, it is not as simple. I have to decipher what bucket needs to be filled and then use it as an opportunity to walk him through what he needs and how he can express what he needs. I need to seek out various opportunities for him to flex his power without being disrespectful and losing consequences, and to fill his attention bucket, I need to stop and pause and not give him negative attention but look for ways to give him positive, encouraging attention.
The buckets make sense to me, and I am so glad I keep reading and learning. Knowledge is power. I guess that it is me filling my power bucket.
Which bucket do you need to fill?