Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quench Not the Spirit

Michael's family came to visit yesterday, and we stayed up till 2am just talking (and of course, mentioning every hour or so that we really ought to go to bed...but that took more energy than staying where we were). And then I got up at 5am with them to ride to the airport so I could drive their car back. The next part is very weird, and a little bit embarrassing: when I got home, I got back in bed since Ender was still asleep and would likely stay asleep since he, too, went to bed past his usual hour.
And I woke up to Michael saying "It's 12:30!" NO WAY!!! What about Ender? I suddenly remembered that he had woken up at one point, and I had called out "Good morning, cutie! Can you open your door?" And then I was out again. Good parenting, Qait. And apparently he fell asleep again, too, because he is STILL asleep. :| Oh dear!
I haven't done that since early high school! (The sleeping in part, not the parenting part). I don't know how to sleep that late anymore! When I finally got myself to move and get up, I thought "Mmm, food smells good. And I don't." But in the kitchen, I lost the energy to eat and suddenly didn't care for food. Not even for the Pringles Michael had pilfered from the family's Yukon (I suppose I'm an accomplice since I didn't try very hard to dissuade him...).

* * *

Well! On a different note, I had a really nice scripture study while I half-heartedly downed the last crumbs of the Pringles. Along with my daily reading, I read some quotes in a glue-in that included one from Elder Neal A. Maxwell, and the title of a book in his source caught my eye: "Quench Not the Spirit Which Quickens the Inner Man," by Keith K. Hilbig. It's had me thinking about what that means, and I really like it for a little mantra right now.

Yesterday, Ender gave me a hard time. He was mildly bipolar, as all children can be, and all my disciplinary efforts frustrated him. He wanted things his own way. On Monday, our family home evening was a nursery lesson, "I Can Be Happy." We've been trying to help him understand that he can choose to be happy even when things aren't going his way. I have to say, I have tried much harder in the last week or two to be especially kind and gentle and not give way to the urge to lose my temper. I've done well. I'm grateful I feel like I've been a very good mommy. I've tried to not even entertain thoughts of frustration with Ender, because I know that leaves me insincere in my efforts to calm him. Michael's mom told us something she learned in teaching little kindergarten kids recently: when a child is angry, the neurons in his brain block him from learning. That's often the reason it can be so difficult to teach kids at school--they arrive grumpy that they had to eat a yucky breakfast, that they had to wear a stupid coat, that they didn't get to sleep in, and then they are definitely not in the mood to be taught. At BYU-Idaho (and BYU, but she used the former in her example), every class begins with a prayer. This allows the students to calm down, which clears the way for learning. School goes more smoothly, learning happens, and the students are markedly happier.
I've decided I'm going to learn techniques to help Ender calm down. I will try a number of things! I may simply hug him till he's quiet, or convince him to smile, or perhaps even sing a song with him. Because I've noticed that it's hard for both of us when he's yelling and I'm not willing to raise my voice; I keep trying to teach him when he's angry.
I think it will help. It makes sense. And then we will both be actively avoiding "quenching the Spirit" which would otherwise quicken our inner selves. It's infinitely important to stay close to the Spirit, and if this is one way to help him (and myself), we'll be blessed with success!


  1. That's super insightful, Qait! You know, every post I read of yours makes me look forward to being a mom. It won't be easy, obviously, but I still look forward to it. :) Love ya!

  2. I love that you were that tired, and that Ender was too! I'm always comforted knowing that I will hear my kids if they're up and need me. Regardless of how tired I am. I'm sure if Ender had really needed to stay up after that initial "hello", you would've heard him. :D Sometimes I hear the girls and am coming out of a DEEP FOG-like sleep...

    I love this. And it's so true. They don't learn when they're angry. Or frustrated. Neither do we. It reminds me of something I just read. You'll like this. It seems long now that I'm typing it and look over it, but maybe you'll like it and the ideas in it. I realized as I was typing that a lot of it was geared toward older kids (my older girls) so I left a lot out too. But what I did put in, I thought could apply. :D

    "Train yourself to respond to your child's state of excitement by concentrating on your own inner state of calm and resolution. Use his rising level of emotional arousal (why do I hate that word?) as a cue to lower yours. Your goal is to keep your self-control, so your child can regain his.

    You can't fix a leaky roof when it's raining. And when it doesn't rain, it's easy to forget about the leak. Until the next rainstorm. When your Edison-trait child (which basically means; bright and non-conformant...) is having a temper tantrum, you can't teach him methods to relax. And when he's not upset, it's easy to forget you want to do this. Until the next tantrum.

    Edison-trait children (and really, I think) need to explore ways to regain their self-control. They need to learn how to settle themselves down. Unfortunately, since they also have a strong drive for stimulation, they are likely at first to resist staying quiet long enough to learn relaxation techniques.

    (And FINALLY to the main ideas she shares to actually GET them to calm down...)

    When your child is very young, you can plant some seeds for future habits. Learn to notice warning signs that he is about to get agitated. Can you hear it in his speech or see it in his eyes? Reduce stimulation. Read or tell him a story in a soothing voice.


    Help your child learn to identify his own early warnings that he is getting too excited or upset. Ask him, "What does it feel like inside your body right now?" Look at him closely for signs of tension. In an inviting tone of voice, ask him to explore what it feels like when he's tense. "Does your fist want to punch? Does your forehead feel scrunched? Do you feel hot and mean?"A mental picture is a useful way for him to recognize a cue: "Do you feel like a balloon about to burst? or a firecracker ready to go off?"

    The first time he reads his own signs by himself, acknowledge him right away. If he stops the cycle and calms himself down, let him know that you noticed and admire what he did. Maybe he left and went for a walk (obviously this "he" is older than Ender...) or into his room to cool off. Tell him how much you respect his maturity, responsibility, and self-discipline (that is, in kid-speak...haha)."

  3. And since I don't want the copyright police to get me....that was from "The Edison Trait: Saving the Spirit of Your Nonconforming Child" by Lucy Jo Palladino, Ph.D. She has a newer edition with a different title if you go looking for it. Dreamers, Discoverers, and Dynamos.

  4. I've heard of that book, I think! Those are great ideas, thank you! I will look for that book.

  5. And thanks, too for your comments on hearing our babies...i sure hope ender just needed that rest. When I got him up, I realized I had missed him! And he had missed me! We had a sweet "morning" together; her talked my ear off, and I loved it.

  6. Thanks for your comment, Lynnae. :) You will be such a wonderful mother--I'm glad you look forward to it! And I'm glad anything I've said has helped you realize how great it is.
    Being a wife and mommy is the best thing I'm doing with my life.


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