Last week, MotherLove hosted our second Lunch Bunch for the summer of 2014. Our summer Group Sessions hold a special place for the participants that attend. Summer time for a teen mom can mean isolation, boredom, and discouragement. School is often a huge social outlet for them now that staying home with the baby keeps them from joining typical teen outings. And if they have not yet successfully found work, summer can mean staying at home with the baby by themselves all day, every day. Anyone who has experienced this kind of solo baby care knows how desperate one can feel for interaction with someone who doesn’t drool! Coming to MotherLove gets parenting teens out of the house, hanging out with other young moms, and gives their babies a built-in playdate.
This summer, we are exploring a different aspect of Positive Parenting each time we get together. Last week, we talked about creating a safe and interesting environment for children. The young moms that joined us had fun creating baby toys made from simple art supplies and some recycled bottles.
This week, we stepped it up a notch by exploring positive opposites, reinforcement, and imitation. We played games that had us rephrasing “No!” and “Don’t!” into directing our kids towards behaviors that we want to see. (Simply state the opposite of the misbehavior in a positive way: “Don’t hit” becomes “Use gentle touches,” or “Use your words.”) We also brainstormed a list of things babies do naturally that we have the opportunity to reinforce, things like sharing, singing, and letting us know when they need something.
The group also took a look at our own actions to sort out things we want our children to mirror, and things we’d rather our kids not imitate. The take home message for that exercise: if you want your child to do something, show them that you value it by doing it yourself! We had a great time and everyone went home with a little something for their baby as a thanks for participating.
We’re grateful that the YWCA can provide a safe space for these young moms to come together and support each other as they put their best foot forward for their kids.
Holly Gillespie is the MotherLove Coordinator at the YWCA.