Oh, I know she's normal, mom2grrls. My question is not, is this normal.
My question is, how do I respond to these behaviors in a gentle way without encouraging them. Ignoring encourages them. Time-ins encourage them. Time-outs unless she cannot leave the time-out area encourage them. Bribes and withdrawal of privileges improve the behavior short term but quickly escalate in an arms race. Discussion encourages them.
So... ??? If I shouldn't ignore (not that I can), what can I do but calmly endure abuse?
I mean really, what would you do? When any interaction encourages further abuse, and ignoring also encourages it?
|The nicer I am to them, the nicer they are to me. They are both strong-willed and I know for fact that if I was doing the amount of punishing and ignoring that it *sounds* like is being described here, I would be in complete and total hell.
We are only discussing problem behavior. We have three to five activities a day that it's focused on her and we're having fun together. I am telling you about all the things I've tried, not every second of our day.
The nicer I am to her, though, the more she tests. Like, "Oh, you're being gentle and lenient? Let's see... how far does that lean?"
Hard to explain. If I agree to one thing, she IMMEDIATELY asks for another. And another. And another. Always? No, of course not. But those times are hard with two kids.
Strong-willed manifests in many different ways. I give my child many choices and challenges and we hug a lot and I really do try to "fill the cup" and connect and make sure she's always well-rested, well-fed, pottied, etc.
But the fact is, there are times when we do not agree, or when she wants to argue, and I'm asking about THOSE times.
I have distilled it down to three times that I really can't deal with:
-When she hits (this is because she disagrees with something that happens, i.e. mommy needs to care for someone else's basic needs, her little sister gets to play with a toy that suddenly becomes attractive though it was ignored for six months until little sister got it) or kicks.
-When she expels insults/abusive language (ibid)
-When she does not want to go to bed and will do ANYTHING to keep it from happening... even if the nightlight (that she picked out and chose the place for on the wall) is on, monsters are gone, three bedtime stories have been read, she had her nap, she went to bed on time the night before, she's been kissed, hugged, given sweet dreams, told about what we will do the next day if only she is well-rested... even if I were the world's most perfect mother, she would still challenge this.
Because she's 3.5. Not because I'm bad. Not because I don't have a gentle, half-hour routine full of fun and relaxing stories. Not because the room isn't the right temperature, or there isn't white noise, or she hasn't had a say in her pyjamas and her blanket. Not because we haven't hugged. Because, in her own words:
"I need something."
"What do you need, baby?"
"I need something besides sleep."
"You don't want to sleep."
"No, I want to not sleep."
"You don't want to go to bed, you want to be awake."
"Yeah, I want it to be day."
"I understand, you want to do the fun day things. It's night, though. When we wake up..."
She jumps out of bed at this point, and says, "Morning!". We've explored the possibility of nightmares, fear of the dark, the comfort of her bed, sounds at night, blah blah blah.
Nope. She's just a normal 3.5 year old and there's nothing I can do.
However, I have a responsibility to get her to bed so she can function normally. KWIM?
|But is it a false dichotomy to say there is no other cake, or this is the choice you have, A or B and no amount whining is going to change that? It's only false if you, the choice GIVER falters and decides that there IS another choice (which I do sometimes, when I realize I am being unfair, and then I add a third choice...you can be nice, you can go outside or you can go to your room). The reality is you ARE in charge and you DO get to limit the choices available to her, whether she likes it or not.
Yeah, but I'm just saying, this is no more gentle than being honest about it and telling her up-front, you know? Why bother shoving choices she disagrees with in her face when I could just tell her "nope!"
I'm just saying, presenting these choices is only more gentle than brute honesty when they are a genuine distraction for a younger child. Not when presented to a child that can see that this is just a distraction technique.
|"If you can't decide, I will be glad to decide for you."
"The park is not one of your choices. Would you like to take a nap or watch TV?"
"So you prefer to go outside then? Great! I'll be glad to play with you when you are able to play nicely.
You're just prolonging the argument. I am trying to avoid arguments. My illustrative answers were just to highlight this. That she's not going to give up. I"m not saying she's smart. I'm saying she DOESN'T GIVE UP. There is no WORD or ANSWER that is going to end the argument. Not one.
|Seriously, my kids would *flip out* if I did some of what's being talked about in this thread. It doesn't surprise me to hear the amount of anger and acting out. That's what strong-willed people do. They do. not. give. up. And the more you fight with them and model not giving up....they do. not. give. up. MORE.
Yep. Yep. But there are some non-negotiables. Don't hit. Don't kick. Sleep. Sometimes we have to go somewhere.
So WHAT DO I DO THEN? I can't argue, I can't incentivize, I can't force because you can't force someone not to hit every time, or to sleep.
So what do I do?!?!
I am modeling not hitting and using words to express anger and disagreement. I model sleeping. If you think I'm not doing these things, and not modeling compromise most of the time, you're wrong.
But I am not going to live with being hit until somehow it clicks. I'm sorry. She can't hit.
Except... with GD, apparently, she can. Because there's nothing I can do about it.
Except prevent it with the perfect life. If someone would have told me to have the perfect life before having kids, I wouldn't have had them! Sorry, we live in reality.
Incidentally, I am a behavioralist. I don't think behavioralism encourages punishment. I think modeling is ideal. However, modeling doesn't always allow for gentle co-existence when one person is not following the program.