Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Superhero Supreme

So often I feel like most of my interaction with my kids is discipline and correction. Manners training. Social skills tweaking. Respect reinforcing. Kindness coaching. The list goes on. I have to work hard to be careful not to forget to praise them for the things they do well. Are you tracking with me here? Every now and then we like to celebrate character growth in the kids. I've noticed that making a big deal about growth steps tends to have far more of a lasting impact than the daily discipline grind. Now don't get me wrong...the daily discipline is important--no, critical--in developing Christlike character in my children. But positive reinforcement is crucial, too. When I notice consistent progress, we celebrate. I think the theme of our week this week could be Superheroes! Both my kids have had some very heroic moments. Their acts of heroism are very different, though. I must write them down so as not to forget.

Pepper is my hero. He is a real superhero. Pepper IS Spiderman. Rest easy here...there are no spiders involved in this tale. At some point in the last few weeks, Matt introduced Pepper to his favorite movie: Spiderman. Spiderman was Matt's favorite superhero when he was little, so it seemed logical to start Pepper young. Ever since watching the movie, Pepper has become immersed in all things Spiderman. This means his Spidey underoos are top priority in his underwear drawer. He wears his Spiderman costume as much as I will let him, which is pretty much all the time. He constantly plays Spiderman, insists that his name is Spiderman, and has worked hard to teach his fingers how to hold the web-slinging position. He even understands that Spiderman helps others. Both kitties have been "rescued" multiple times. Of course, they have to be locked in the closet so he can rescue them...but still, he is showing great kindness and compassion by tenderly rescuing "poor, lost Zoe and Pixie" from their distress. Yesterday he came down for breakfast with his Spiderman action figure in one hand and his Spiderman baseball cap in the other hand. Here is what he said.

(Holds up action figure) "Look Mommy, it's ME! Look what I can do!" (proceeds to jump around the living room, making combat noises and flying Spiderman all over the place) Serious cuteness!
(Holds up his ball cap) "This is amazing, Mommy! They even put ME on a hat!"
Can you stand it? I can hardly stand it! I just want to eat him up, he's so cute!

Pepper is my superhero because he has such a wonderful imagination. I am soaking up every moment of Pepper's delightful imaginative play! He is also my hero because he is making a very conscious effort to be kind to the cats. This has been an area of consistent struggle for him, but he is really working on it! I've even heard him verbally coaching himself on how to kindly touch the kitties! So proud of him!

Snapper is a real-life superhero. All summer long, we had an ongoing discussion about bullying. We read books about bullying, talked about why bullies act the way they do, and about how to deal with a bully. We did quite a bit of role playing so she would be prepared to wisely handle bullying whenever she should encounter it. And believe me, bullying is a big problem in the generation our kids are growing up in! Snapper's first confrontation with a bully came in the first 5 minutes of her first day of 2nd grade. I watched the whole thing from the hall, curious to see if our advance preparation would pay off. Snapper was handing out pencils for her teacher when one of the girls in the class--we'll call her Lisa--came over to her. Lisa, who is a good 6 inches taller than Snapper, got right up in Snapper's face and told her in a very mean and domineering manner that she was passing out the pencils wrong. Without missing a beat, Snapper straightened up, looked Lisa square in the eye and said (in the trademark sassy Snapper style), "Hello, I'm in 2nd grade. I think I can handle it!" I think my jaw hit the floor at the courage and boldness of my girl! Lisa backed down and walked away. The next day she asked Snapper to be her friend, and they have enjoyed playing together ever since.

Yesterday a 3rd grade boy started making fun of Snapper's friend Kelly (name changed). Snapper went straight over to that older boy and told him to stop making fun of Kelly, or she would go tell the teacher. She reminded him that words can hurt others. Then she growled at him and chased him away.

Today Snapper's teacher had surgery, so there was a sub in Snapper's class. During a math game, the class got very rowdy. The sub had to discipline the whole class. However, there were a few students who were being quiet and respectful, and were trying to get the others to calm down. Those 4 girls and 2 boys got to pick their favorite books from the shelf and go next door to another teacher's classroom to read while the sub dealt with the naughties. Snapper and Kelly were two of the good kids who enjoyed their reading reward!

Snapper is my superhero because:
1. She courageously (if not the most tactfully) faced the bully.
2. She made friends with the bully.
3. She stood up to a bigger, older boy in defense of her friend, and coached him on using kind words.
4. She is making good behavior choices and is choosing to do what is right, even when it means going against what everyone else is doing.

I am so proud of my kids this week--proud of who they are and the growth I'm seeing in their lives. I'm planning a superhero party for them to celebrate. Our party will happen on Saturday. If the weather cooperates, we'll go for a morning hike to the top of Pinnacle Mountain which is about 10 miles west of downtown Little Rock. That is an activity that requires courage and determination, yet has a great reward! In the afternoon, I'll take Snapper to the pottery studio in our town to make a wall hanging for her room--one that reminds her of her favorite Bible verse, Joshua 1:9: "Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." For dinner we will have a superhero meal. Our menu consists of: Hero Burgers (recipe coming soon!), Superpower Smoothies (fruits and veggies to strengthen our bodies), and Powerade to drink. It will be a celebration for both kids to remember!

Has your kiddo been a superhero this week? Please tell me about it! If you have creative ways to celebrate character growth, I'd love to hear about that, too.


Southern Belle said...

What a blessing this post was to read! I am in the midst of potty training Jack-Jack and your post reminded me to bring out the M&M's each time he gets to the potty in time. I love the idea of a superhero meal and look forward to seeing all your recipes!

By the way, you have an award waiting for you on my blog. = )

Proud USMC Wife said...

I really enjoyed reading about your precious kids. How proud you must feel for both of them. You are such a great Mother to teach them how to be great too. I love the name Pepper and Snapper. Too cute! I think it's so wonderful you are celebrating who they are.

My son is also a big fan of Spiderman. However, his favorite right now is Thomas the Train.

About Me said...

What a wonderful post! We are hoping to celebrate progress soon. My younger daughter is having a bit of difficulty with "forgetfulness" - i.e., going off to play before clearing her place at the table, etc. I'm hoping we're going to be headed in the right direction soon!

Tara said...

Those are great examples to prove that what you are teaching is being absorbed and applied. Great job to all of you and I hope they enjoy the well-deserved trip and dinner!

RachelRuelas said...

You, Emily, are such a great Mom!