Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The 4 P's of Parenting Boys

I know what you’re thinking.  That because I’m raising three boys and share my life with my husband that this post is going to be about bathroom habits, and I’m delighted to say that you’re wrong.

In my short time as a mom to boys (8 years) I’ve learned (most of the time the hard way) that certain techniques work, and other techniques make things worse.  Everyday I learn something new about the boys and about myself as a mother.  What I try to remember are the 4 P’s of Parenting Boys that I have set for myself.

Patience:  Holy moly this is hard!  I mean grind your teeth, eyes rolling in the back of your head, eyelid twitching HARD!  How many times can you ask one little being to do something?  And we’re not talking about something complicated.  We’re talking about something as simple as washing your hands before dinner.  I actually have a number, right now the record in our house is 15.  Yep, 15 friggin times I’ve had to ask one or both of my older boys to wash their hands for dinner before they actually do it.  It’s like as soon as they hear an instruction, it is at that very moment they find interest in every piece of lint or spec of dust that stretches the floor from where they are to where the bathroom is. 

There are some days that I do so much deep breathing and collecting myself that I make myself dizzy.  But we all know as parents that patience is something we have to have.  Darn-it-all!  It would just be SO much easier to fly off the handle (which I still do from time to time).  Oh how I wish they sold patience in a jar on the shelves of every store in the world.  It would be so much easier to buy it, drink it and then have patience rather than conjuring it up all my own.

Persistence:  My mantra to myself when I want to throw in the towel is simply…If you give up, they win and walk all over you.  It’s that simple.  I have to keep at it until it is burned in their brain.  For example when it comes to consequences for their actions, the follow-through is so much harder on the parents then it is on the child.  If I threaten something like “if you hit your brother again, you won’t be able to go to so-and-so’s birthday party,” (you know where this is going don’t you) and of course he ends up hitting his brother, not going to the party, and you get to listen to his moaning and groaning, sobbing and crying, and the “you’re the meanest mommy in the whole world.”  So who is actually getting the punishment?  I swear most of the time it feels like it is me.  BUT, persistence pays off, especially in the long run, even though it has a tendency to suck when you are in the moment because who really likes to be the bad guy? 

Praise:  Give plenty of praise, praise and more praise.  I’ve learned that my little boys can have very fragile egos and can lose confidence in themselves and their abilities with the slightest bit of negativity.  I try my best to remember that they are just simply trying to find their little place in this crazy world of rules and exceptions to the rules.  As parents we can be so quick to jump on the negative in order to correct their behavior and have them learn the correct ones.  So I try my best to be aware and communicative about the things they do right no matter how small it is.  There have been times where all I’ve focused on is the negative or the things they need to work on and I’ve found that all that does is promote more of the negative behavior.  However, when I use an equal amount of praise, I get more of the behavior deserving of praise.  Go figure!  Seems simple and logical enough, but it is sure hard to stick to and requires a ton of trial and error on my part.  But it is another must as these boys are shaping how they see themselves at such a young age.     

Plungers:  Okay, okay…turns out one of the 4 P’s of Parenting Boys does in fact deal with bathroom habits.  But the bottom line is you simply cannot live in a house full of boys without investing in several really good plungers.  They save you from having to remodel your bathrooms every other year.  They save your sanity.  So, if you have one boy or twelve please for your own peace of mind, invest in plungers.  Get one for every bathroom in the house.  I learned the hard way that the days of having one plunger for the house are long, long, LONG gone.

So while my personal 4 P’s of Parenting may be short, concise, and the words themselves are easy to remember they are the things that I strive to remember, and struggle to do, every single day.  Well with the exception of the plungers of course, that doesn’t take memory, but it does require lightning quick feet and a fast draw!

What are your mantras of motherhood?


Anonymous said...

You are right on point. Praise and patience are definites I try to incorporate into managing my son and husband. ;)
Persistence is a little tough sometimes, I mean a mom has too sleep.
Plugger....hmmmm he is only 4, nothing yet, but I will definitely make note of this!

Hopes said...

Optimistic Mom,

Persistence is hard. If the kids or my husband work on me long enough, and if I'm tired enough, all I want to do is cave in! UGH! As for the plungers...research them now because not all plungers are the same!

Thank you for coming by, reading and commenting! It means a lot! Can't wait to read your blog!

jpfeiferhardwick said...

Patience: love this one! "days when i do so much deep breathing and collecting myself that i make myself dizzy!" lol! i do this daily too! Persistence: is the big one for me. I have had to make sure that I always follow through on my threats (so i make them selectively) and finally the littlest man when i say "and you KNOW that i will do it!" believes me, and stays put in his room, even with the door wide open. he may toe the line, scream and make angry faces at me, but he listens! (yeah! score one for mommy!) Praise: so true, they are just little people trying to figure out their place in this world, and they just want to be loved and appreciated despite their challenges, just like we all do. I cringed reading "Battle hymn of the Tiger mother" and how brutal she could be with her words to her kids. I discuss with my guys their individual challenges and strengths, and try to find teachable moments when things go awry. "Did you notice how the other kids did not like that when "Bob" yelled at them?" "Do you think they like it when you do it?" I was especially proud of my littlest man for keeping his cool when in a chaotic group of kids yesterday and one little girl was yelling into his face. i saw his expression changing to that old familiar scowl, but he caught my eye, and then calmed himself and brushed her off and continued to play. Go Jackie! Plungers: we have no problem with so far, but a good tip nonetheless.
I will add my 4th P instead, which would be Procrastination: always put off what can be put off to instead cuddle, color, dig in the dirt, look at bugs, imagine images in the clouds, fight pillow wars, make cookies, etc. etc. etc. THEY ARE ONLY LITTLE ONCE! the house work will wait!
keep them coming girl! i love the way you write! spot on!

Tiffany said...

I think your 4 P's are great tips even for girls! Especially my daughter who is 7. The persistence one for sure!! She has to be reminded more often than her 4 yr old brother to do something. My little boy is always aiming to please his momma!

Do boys argue with each other much? My two seem to ALWAYS pick on each other. It started when he turned 3 and he just turned 4 last week. I have come up with some good tactics but some days I need a tall glass of patience.
Found you through Theta Mom! I wanted to tell you and I'm your newest follower.

Hopes said...

jp...I LOVE you're 4th P! What a way to put a positive spin on a negative word! I'm going to keep that in my hat! And thank you for the support! I'm so glad you are enjoying the blog!

Hopes said...


Welcome! And thank you so much for reading and commenting! I'm so very glad you enjoy the blog.

You're right, I'm sure the 4 P's could apply to boys and girls alike, I just don't have any experience with girls and like to only speak from my experience, I'm definitely no expert.

To answer your question. Boys absolutely argue, ALL...THE...TIME!! I grew up with a little brother 3 years younger than me (seems to be the same age difference as your children). We fought a TON, typical sibiling stuff, but what we NEVER fought about was our toys. You would be hard pressed to find me playing with my brothers GI Joes, or him playing with my My Little Pony's or Barbie's. My boys have their usual sibling fights, but they also fight over the toys. Who has what, who took what, who WANTS what!

So it feels like they are fighting over something, almost every moment of every day. A tall glass of patience is just what the doctor ordered, I'd be happy to join you anytime!

Once again, welcome! So glad to have you here!

Making It Work Mom said...

I love your four P's. Persistence is the hardest one for me. I hate hate punishing them, but sometimes (especially with my oldest daughter) it feels like they won't stop until I do punish.

And oh yeah my son clogged up the toilet today!
And left it that way with the door shut
He had no idea why he didn't tell anyone

Hopes said...

Making It Work Mom,

Thank you so much for visiting, and commenting!! I love your blog!

Punishment just flat out sucks! UGH! I hate it too! Wish there was some hired help for that kind of thing!

What is it with boys, toliets, and modesty? They are more than happy to expel toxic gases in public, but when it comes to clogging the toliet...mum's the word.

Julie S. said...

I LOVE this post! As a boy mom to a 2 year old, I can relate :) I am following your blog now!

Hopes said...

Hi Julie and welcome!

Thank you so much for commenting! I'm SO very glad to have you on board! The more mommy's that band together, the better chance we all have of staying afloat in this lovely sea of tesosterone!