Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Storms outside, clear skies inside

After all my complaints about her yesterday, the Nut was a sweetie today. She played nicely with her sister. There were a couple moments that almost turned me into a praying woman:

-- We rebuilt her "fort" in the living room out of chairs and blankets, because there was a storm coming and she was afraid it would be a loud one. We stocked it with her flashlight, a snack, water and a lot of books. In the early afternoon, there was still no storm, but she announced she was going into her fort. I told her she could take her quiet time in there, with the wild hope that with all the pillows in there she might fall asleep.

She did. And the baby slept in the swing for awhile. And when it rained, it rained quietly. Hallelujah.

-- Later I was trying to get the baby down for a second nap (I'm working on getting a nap rhythm going because this baby is only sleeping 12 or 13 hours out of 24). She was crying in the swing so I carried her to Nutmeg's room to rock her. But there was Nutmeg, sitting in her own rocking chair, quietly looking at a book. I asked her if she wanted me to sit with her and read to her.

She cooly responded, only half looking up, "No."
"Do you want me to go away?"
And so I did. She wasn't mad at me, just involved in her own thing.

I'm already about 2/3 of the way through "Siblings Without Rivalry" (breastfeeding = reading time). It is actually about how to talk to children, and it has a lot of suggestions in the direction that I've been wanting to go anyway.

I realize when I am in preschools and at playschool that the teachers speak to the children so much more gently and respectfully than Epu and I have spoken to Nutmeg. We have always been concerned about laying down the law and getting her to respect us. But of course if they are already feeling angry or frustrated yelling at them just heats them up more. There are a lot of suggestions in the book about echoing how you think kids are feeling, and encouraging them to express themselves in words instead of violence. A lot of that is not specific to sibling rivalry.

In the case of sibling rivalry, the book's main advice is to give kids permission to have and express negative feelings about the sibling. They even suggest you bring it up -- "It must be frustrating to have to wait while mommy changes the baby." I find that interesting since we have been dealing mostly not with direct, obvious aggression toward the baby but more with acting out in general since the baby showed up.

So, we'll keep working on it and report back. I may have even convinced Epu to read the book on his commute, which I think would be his first cover-to-cover parenting book.


Kendra said...

First of all, I have to say: Nutmeg is an ADORABLE name! I am trying to think of names for our new arrival this summer. Anyway, I have also read about the importance of allowing and encouraging your children to express frustrations about their siblings. It allows them to understand that their feelings are valid and real.


Artist4life925 said...

I'm glad you guys had a quiet day! We had a hell of a storm down here in Champaign Urbana! It sounds like Nutmeg is becoming more independent and with her new little sister around, she may just need some encouragement that there are times when everyone needs their own time then there's family time. I think you're doing a great job with her. Keep it up!