It's not that we're terrible people, we just don't tell our boys "good job" anymore. Austin read an article online about how telling your kids good job may lead them to try to do things just to please the adults in their lives, not necessarily because it needs to be done or to please themselves. We want our boys to be independent (which they are) and not having to have the approval of others all the time. We want them to do things for the satisfaction of accomplishing it and doing it well, a sense of satisfaction that can only come from themselves. So, instead, we say something different.
Depending on what's going on, we will say "thank you" or "you're right." If Asher is doing schoolwork (nothing too strenuous, we're learning letters and numbers and how to read) and finishes and looks up for praise, I enthusiastically say "You read all those words! Were they hard? Were there words you didn't know? How did you figure out what they were?" It's all about tone of voice. He'll explain to me, sometimes, how he did it. Usually he says it wasn't hard. If its hard, he doesn't want to do it and tells me "Well, I'm just a little boy and this is hard." To which we typically respond "Yeah, but you're a little boy who knows his letters/can put on his shoes/take off his pants/whatever his current dilemma is." Sometimes that works, sometimes if I ignore his pleas for help, he figures it out on his own.
We don't tell them to do things very often. My family has experienced a bit of rebellion in the past few years as we kids have become adults and still feel like we're being told to do things rather than asked by our family members. So, I've made a conscious effort with my own boys to ask them to do things. Its amazing how much quicker things get done at times if you say "Would you please put the toys away?" instead of "Put the toys away." Of course, sometimes they don't "hear" me and it devolves into me shouting "Put the toys away now or Mommy's going to throw them in the trash!" I've actually followed through on that a couple times. There's a reason they have so few books available to them at this time, and very few of those have pages instead of boards. Even Elijah is getting in on this better behavior. Every morning, he has a Carnation Breakfast Essential and he'll bring me his cup and the packet of powder (kind of like hot cocoa mix for milk) and then wait patiently while I prepare it, throwing away the empty packet and then dancing and saying "shake it mommy!" (you have to shake the milk and powder together) before asking politely for his cup and thanking me for handing it to him.
We don't say "Uh oh!" when they fall, or ask them if they're ok. We TELL them "You're ok. In fact, you're awesome." If WE don't react negatively to a fall, they won't either. Asher used to just jump up and rub the spot that was banged and say "I awesome!" before anyone could react. It's tricky when we're around others who's first instinct is to say "uh oh! Are you ok? Poor baby!" because a lot of the time, the boys will think they're supposed to cry or something instead of just going on about their play.
Once, when Elijah was an infant, I was in the next room changing him or something and Asher fell and I HEARD him hit the floor pretty hard. I couldn't get to him right away but I heard him say "You ok? Yeah, I awesome." He wasn't even 2 yet.
We don't censor what our kids wear that much. I figure, unless there's a REASON they need to be dressed nicely (special occasions, pictures, etc) they can wear whatever they want. That's why Asher's pants and underwear are almost always on backwards. That's why he frequently looks like he got dressed in the dark. Elijah still needs a lot more assistance, but once he's figured out how to put on his own pants and pick out his own clothes, all bets are off. Same with the ladybug, when she gets older. I anticipate some highly entertaining outfits in my future, considering we've already had a camo pants/bright orange shirt/black sandals with socks (shudder) combo from Asher. This past weekend they stayed with their grandparents for a night and when we got them back, Asher was wearing his brother's pants and socks (which Elijah had outgrown months ago and worn the day before) and his shoes were on the wrong feet. At least he had clothes ON, right? And he was fine with his ensemble. I did have to fix the pants, since they were desperately too short, and the shoes got fixed at the same time the pants did, but we left the socks until bedtime. He doesn't care his heel is hanging out of his socks. It makes them easier to take off, gosh Mom.
In spite of the things we don't do with our boys, I feel like we DO do a lot. We read with them. We play with them. I occasionally take them places other than Oma's, school, and church. We watch movies together and practice our letters together. We have wrestlemania in Mommy's bed when Mommy's trying to rest (not such a fan of that one). We go to friends' houses and try not to be too obnoxious, though that can sometimes be hard. We go to the movie theater and trick-or-treating THREE TIMES. We eat their favorite meals and snacks and drink lots of their favorite drinks.
Yes, there are times I yell a lot. There are days where it starts bad and gets worse. There are days when I'd probably trade them for a half a stick of gum. But typically, those days are few and far between. Mostly in August when we don't have FKO and October when Austin's busy most Saturdays and evenings with the BEST Robotics Competition. I try to always tell them I'm sorry and give them hugs and kisses when I have a mean mommy day. And Asher reminds me frequently "Yeah, but you shouldn't yell at us Mommy. It's not nice."
No, it's not. And I'm glad that's something he will tell me.