Encouraging independence… But not in charge

by Jen Lee Reeves on August 19, 2012 · 2 comments

in 2012,Kid Pointz

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Back in 2005, during my 20 week ultrasound, the technician did not notice Jordan’s limb difference but we did discover that I was going to be a mother to a daughter. With or without a limb difference, I was nervous. I know how hard it can be to be a female. So right then and there, I committed myself to helping my daughter grow up to be confident and proud. I promised myself I would not harp on the little things. I would encourage my daughter to be strong and learn she can be whatever she sets her mind to.

So when Jordan was born with a limb difference, I was even more committed. My daughter will be proud and strong and independent. No one will tell her she can’t do something.

But that doesn’t mean grown ups can’t tell her no. 

Unfortunately, Jordan does not always recognize the difference. And this has become my biggest challenge as a parent. This summer has been the summer of power struggles with Jordan. I am doing what I can to navigate this fine line between strength and independence and disrespect. I am not a fan of disrespect.

I also want to avoid yelling and anger. I didn’t quite manage that goal perfectly while Jordan and I were recently enjoying a lunch out with a couple of my co-workers. Just a few days before the lunch, Jordan was given the permission to use the restroom on her own at a different restaurant. I did not feel that was appropriate at our lunch location. The bathroom was much farther away and I couldn’t see the bathroom door. The difference didn’t matter to Jordan and she put on quite a show when I got up to take her to the bathroom. I didn’t yell. But I got flustered.

If I had planned a little more in advance, my reaction could have been more productive. In the past, we have used a jewel jar to help Jordan to make good choices. I used it mainly to encourage Jordan to go to bed without throwing a fit. It really worked. She filled the jar with “jewels” and she ended up earning a couple of books. In the last few months, the jewel jar has lost in our focus and Jordan has emerged with new behavior challenges. It just happened to be just in time for a site called Kids Pointz to contact me for an opportunity to write for its site. I’m stunned by the perfect timing of this opportunity. I have always tried to be a positive parent but I have never used any guides or tools beyond the jewel jar. Now Jordan and I are going through the collection of Kids Pointz behavioral charts to pick out a design she likes. I’m even thinking about using the site’s music practice charts to help Cameron track his piano and guitar practice.

As we work with the print out ideas, I started analyzing the Kid Pointz iPhone app. (It is normally $1.99 but free at least through today.) The app allows you to create a behavior system that fits your needs. I’ve come up with some rules but I need some time to decide what type of rewards will come with earning points. So far, I created rules that include eating breakfast, getting out the door on time for school, teeth brushing and expecting Jordan to be kind to her brother. The app allows you to give points for good behavior and take away points when expectations aren’t met. It’s easy to use and I wonder if I might be more consistent with the app… but Jordan may need something more visual like a chart on the wall. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a way to sync my app with a piece of paper. A girl can dream, right?

With charts and iPhone apps, I wonder if we’re ready to move past the jewel jar. The one thing the jewel jar taught me as we look at new behavioral tools is no matter what we use, we need to be consistent or the chart, app or jar will lose its importance along with the expected behavior. As I shared our success with the jewel jar, I hope I’ll be able to share our experience with the latest tools in my arsenal to help grow two strong, confident and respectful kids. I will do my best to raise my kids with the confidence and strength I think they need to succeed. But dang it, they need to be respectful at the same time. I think that’s the hardest part.

Disclaimer: Kid Pointz sponsored this post as part of its blogger search. Opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sarah March 21, 2013 at 11:26 pm

I was so moved by your post. I often find myself complaining about things that I find difficult but when I read about the real challenges that you and Jordan face with such a positive approach I felt ashamed for complaining about such minor difficulties such as carrying a heavy toddler around. You and Jordan are both an inspiration! I totally agree with you that it doesn’t matter what you use (jewel jar, reward charts, app, etc) as long as you are consistent.

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