Catch a Problem While it's Small
This is a fridge sign to keep up for years:
Catch a problem while it's small
It covers everything from a tired two year old to a hormonal teenager.
I love it when mother principles just involve THINKING differently, rather than DOING something.
It's a 'nip it in the bud' philosophy.
Since you spend so much time with your children, you know them well.
You can see a storm coming, you can tell when he's had a bad day, you know when she's excited or concerned, even if she tries to hide it. They are astonished that you seem to read their mind.
Even with a quiet or difficult child, the years you spend together give you this ability, if you are THINKING about it.
As you listen to your child, you can tell how they feel because you know them well.
As you "Watch and Pray" over your children, your mother's intuition tells you when something is wrong.
The mothering you are doing now, the things you are already doing - time, teaching, play, loving attention, correction, hours and hours of listening to their chatter- these things are making you the expert on this human. Other people can help you understand the child but you are the one who brings it all together.
A calm, happy home helps you see what is going on in their lives. When you are too busy, rushed, distracted - you miss it. You don't see the problem until it is BIG.
You catch a problem when it is small. Before it is a habit, before it has become an issue, while it is just an inclination. You teach them how to handle it, give them love, support, understanding, correction. This is what you are there for.
Catching a problem while it is small means the damage done is small, the time it takes to correct it is small, the stress on the child and on you is small.
Think of this skill you develop as preventative mothering.
You will need it even more when they are teenagers.
The other half of this skill is to take a problem and MAKE it small.
This is from one of my favourite mothers, Jodie: "If everyone is yelling and I come in and yell 'What's going on here?!!' etc, I am just adding to the commotion. Then I wonder why I haven't solved the problem. In fact, it got bigger when I joined in !!"
Perhaps you've noticed a teacher or a mother without this skill. They tell over and over a naughty thing the child has done, or keep refering to a time when the child caused a problem, or make a big deal out of one child's disobedience. This negative attention doesn't fix the problem. It increases it!
Instead take the child aside and privately correct her, sit her on a chair or beside you. (See Teaching Children Obedience part 3)
Remove him from the group, from the focus of the attention. If you are handling a group, focus the attention on the child who is behaving, "See how John is trying hard to sit still."
"Lavish, open praise, quiet, automatic discipline."
Another aspect of catching a problem while it is small, is to work on character weaknesses while the child is young. Disobedience- lots of obedience games, goals and rewards. Selfishness- lots of service. Aggressive- practise kind deeds. Again, with the feeling, 'you are such a wonderful little person and I love you dearly- let's just work on this to help you become even better!'
And that is the truth.