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Too permissive?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
This is what my mother says I am, and usually I don't listen, but a couple of things in the last few days have me wondering. What do you all think? FIrst is was the ice cream last night with ds, who had a very hard day (visit to the dentist for a filling -- he is 4 -- which involved lots of drilling etc). I took he and his twin dd, and the baby, to get ice cream after dinner. Long story short -- he went along with the crowd of kids and ordered whipped cream and then didn't like it. Okay, so I bought him a new one (we like to encourage trying new things, right?) We were not even out the door when he decides he has changed his mind about the topping (not oreos, but gummy worms!). I told him no and was sticking by my answer, no matter how hard he cried, until my fiends' son volunteered to go inside and get the worms. The boy was barely in the door when ds decides, no he wants something else and goes after him. Then, he comes out crying that he needs me to stay with him. So I stand in line for 15 minutes with the boys and ds is all happy. Guess what -- he ate 2 bites and was done. Am I nuts? then thre wa the case of the party dress. Our family was invited to a frineds' son's bar mitzvah (FYI, very meaningful jewish coming of age ritual with party). This a.m. we were all rushing to get out the door. DD1 (6) cannot decide on which dress to wear. WHen I agree with her that the one I bought specially for the occasion may be too small, she bursts into tears. Okay, I say, wear it. She sits for half and hour watching TV while I get dressed, and then as we are rushing out the door, declares that the dress is scratchy. Okay, I say, wear the blue one. Well, she can't decide. I give her a final choice, she can't decide, so I say lets go. Much screaming and crying follows (on both our parts!). We are late and getting later. I pick her up and carry her out the door. She wants the blue dress. I say no. She screams some more. She really needs the blue dress. SHe feels ugly in the pink one. Well, I can relate to the problem -- I often go through my whole closet rejecting everything -- especially when I was feeling fat after dd3 was born. So I relent. Sometimes I am very empathetic, but sometimes I just lose it because I cannot take it anymore. Help!
post #2 of 15
I do not have children the ages of yours yet. BUt I really can sense your frustration.

Sounds to me like these kinds of decisions may be more than what your children can handle presently, i.e. maybe choosing ONE ice cream from a list of 40 is just too overwhelming.

Gosh that sounds really rude, but honestly, I didnt mean it that way.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

I never thought of that!

Gosh, PumpkinSeed, I never really thought of that. Usually I try to limit choices to a few things, but in some of those areas where I know the frustration of having a hard time choosing (food, dress) I often give them free reign and then get frustrated when they can't make up their minds or can't do it quickly enough. Both times I think it was the aggravation factor that got to me. I have been thinking tonight of how I could have structured both events to avoid the aggravation/frustration aspect. Afterall, it is not my kids fault that we were late getting out the door this a.m. thanks.
post #4 of 15
Well, it's hard to say you're this opr that way from two occasions, but for the ice cream thing I just don't understand. I mean, the kid decided to try whipped cream and didn't like- fine, get a spoon and scoop it off and then go on with life. At our house, once you have made a decision you must stick by it, but we encourage creative problem solving to still make everyone happy. I agree that you may need to just limit choices more for a while.
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 


You have not been with my son when he decides things are not right. He gets very sad -- not really tantrum-y, but deep down sad. And he had had a very hard day. It is also possible that I am (over)compensating for my own childhood. I distincly remeber my sister, then 3, getting smacked because she wanted popcorn during an outing with my mom. My mom said we would be going for ice cream later and that she could not have both. My sister insisted, but of course, when we got to the ice cream store, she wanted one too, and my mother spanked her for having a tantrum. SO maybe it is my own baggage here.
post #6 of 15
I have a a child that also gets very deep down sad when he is in these kinds of dilemma's.

It is not easy, but I have found that it does not help him cope with his strong emotional reactions to let him be dominated by them. When he is given rational choices and makes a rational decision, and then regrets it later, we normally have him stick with his decision. It just doesn't teach him to *make* good decisions if he is never expected to follow through.

The other night, he was picking out a video to rent. I was not there, dh had taken him. He had looked forward for several days to renting 'harry Potter". He was planning to get Harry Potter. He was all set for that. Well, he gets there and sees a video of Spider Man cartoons. He has heard of the new movie (but is too young to see it) and he tells dh he can't decide. Somehow it comes to ds doing 'eeny meany miny moe" to decide, and lands on Spider man. He asks dh was to do. Dh says "If it were me, I would get Harry Potter, because he came to get that one". Well, no, ds wan'ts Spider man after all.

So he walks in the front door and immediately starts crying "I got the wrong video!" to me. He was all upset over it, and I was very confused. He kept saying "I did eeny meany miny moe" but my hand landed on the WRONG video!!! I asked why he didn't just forget about it then and get the one he wanted. "I didn't know I could do that!!". He gave the impression dh was making him take the one he picked with this method, but when I asked ds about that, He said no, daddy told him to not worry that he landed on the wrong one, and to get the one he really wanted.

He then says that it wasn't the video that upset him, it was that he thought *I* would be upset when he didn't come home with Harry Potter. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The thing is, I probably WOULD have said something a little concerned to him like "Why didn't you get Harry potter??".

See, he just has these really complicated reasons, and he gets so wrapped up in it all, he starts falling apart and insisting we go back and let him do it all over again. In this case, I just told him "You must have partly wanted to see this if you picked it, so why not just enjoy that you get to see it, and next time, get Harry Potter". So, that is what we did, but it took about an hour of crying before he was over it.

As you saw with the ice cream incident, it *DOESN'T* make things better for kids like this when you go back and give them endless chances. It *ISN'T* about the decision they made being *wrong* for them, it is something about the loss of the thing they *didn't* choose that gets to them, you know? That is really what I think happens. Like some kind of grief over it.

I really think that if you start giving them just a few choices, letting them pick, and then insisting they (reasonably) follow through, you *might* find that they eventually accept the process as one that is not changed by strong emotional fallout. Sometimes, knowing we cannot change something free's us up to enjoy what is around us.

I guess if you never worked on this, you would risk being "permissivie", but obviously, you *are* thinking about it and working on it, and I would not label yourself negatively.

post #7 of 15
As you saw with the ice cream incident, it *DOESN'T* make things better for kids like this when you go back and give them endless chances. It *ISN'T* about the decision they made being *wrong* for them, it is something about the loss of the thing they *didn't* choose that gets to them, you know? That is really what I think happens. Like some kind of grief over it.

I really think that if you start giving them just a few choices, letting them pick, and then insisting they (reasonably) follow through, you *might* find that they eventually accept the process as one that is not changed by strong emotional fallout. Sometimes, knowing we cannot change something free's us up to enjoy what is around us.

Heartmama you said it so well!
This is exactly why we insist that decisions are followed through with.

And by the way Momof4, my son suffers from depression, so I DO know what it is like to have a child who has an extreme emotional reaction to this.
post #8 of 15
mom of four...
well, with four, i could probably take some lessons from you and be a better momma...
but i slept on your question/dilemma and here's what i came up with...
your son's decision making resulted in poor consequences for everyone, not just him...which is when it became too powerful (which also lends itself to feeling responsible later).
most little guys don't like that kind of burden.
if he made the wrong choice (whipped cream) and didn't like, his natural consequence was to learn from it and order differently next time.
also, maybe the whipped cream would have grown on him the fourth of fifth bite?
maybe he could have negotiated a trade with another child?
maybe he could have problem-solved; instead of mom fixing his problem?
We don't always get what we want here and now?

I also have a 21 mo ds who becomes deeply pained when he's dismissed...but i have to allow him coping strategies and resist certain urges.

also, I just reminded my dh that he cannot project onto ds his own baggage as you stated
My dh sayd.."I can see it starting, he's going to be just like me" which just becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy...

oh well, just thoughts for you
post #9 of 15
I haven't read the other responses yet and my response may not be popular but yes I would say you are eing too permissive. There is a difference between respecting your child as a person and an equal member of the family and letting them rule the family. In the ice cream incident I would not have bought a new ice cream in the first place, I would have just scraped the whip cream off. I treat my son as I expect to be treated and I would cretainly not order something new at a restuarant and then orde a whole new entree because I don't like it. With the party dress its not that you let her change her dress that i disagree with. It's that you said no a bunch of times and thn changed your mind. all you are showing is that if she whines enough she'll get her way. I would of asked why she wanted to change the first time she asked to change and if she could give me a valid reason I would have let her change. But I would certainly not put up with tantrums just so they get their way. Then agai I'm not TCS and I don't think chidlren need to be allowed to behave like tyrants to be happy.
post #10 of 15
I agree with the other mamas. I give my daughter a few choices, but we stick with what she's decided unless there's a good reason for switching. Re the ice cream, I agree with krisday. We would have offered to scrape off the whipped cream. But we certainly would not have bought our dd more ice cream if she didn't like what she'd picked. Part of life is learning to deal with the choices you've made. Also, while I'm not super strict about eating rules, I do try to encourage our children not to waste food (or other resources) if possible, and buying an endless number of ice creams is wasteful in my book.

Same thing with the dress. I give dd choices about what she can wear, and she has a reasonable amount of time to dress herself (with help if she wants it). But we don't make ourselves late because she wants to change her mind endlessly. Sometimes my dd gets into a mental funk where if she's wearing the pink, she wants the blue and vice versa. No amount of changing her clothes actually makes her happier--it's a grass is always greener kind of thing.

Maybe I'm more mainstream than most because I do think that kids want and need some boundaries.
post #11 of 15
boy, I don't have anything great to add, but I agree with many of the posts that too many choices are not a good thing for kids.

It's kind of like general commands. My dh is always telling dd1 and dd2 (4 & 3 yrs old) to clean up their room and I always have to remind him that they go in there with good intentions, but get overwhelmed. If he tells them, put your blocks in the basket and stack the books where they belong, they can accomplish it in no time.

I try to offer limited choices, two or three at the most & that's it.

Of course, kids that are tired or feel bad or had a rough day (fillings, yowch!!) are easily overwhelmed.

I learned a lot from the other posts & am always glad for these boards.

momof4, I'm especially grateful for your question since it reminds me of what I'll need to consider when #3 gets here & I know I'll have a harder time remembering age appropriate behaviour (mine, not theirs )
post #12 of 15
Of course these are only two examples (probably the worst you could come up with at that ) and I am sure it is not this crazy all the time. Thanks for being brave enough to share.

the most helpful things I have ever learned:

**Sometimes what mom says just has to go. (Perhaps the dress thing, once it deteriorated should have been subject to benevolent dictatorship. ie: I know this one fits and it is appropriate. get it on and lets go)
**Sometimes we have to live with bad choices. (hey ice cream, regardless of the toppings is still ice cream. )
**Other peoples time and money are important. (Not only did all that stuff get expensive but where was everyone else while you were living in the line at the ice cream parlor. )
** sometimes choices are not appropriate (dd famous last words "those are your choices mom not mine. I want the red dress I have worn everyday this week." Kids aren't stupid. They know if it is a fake choice some kids can handle 5 choices some can't handle any. Some days can handle choises, some days can't handle any)
**If you say no once stick to it
**We can't make our children happy all the time. Sometimes they are just tired, stressed, sad or cranky and need to work through it. Don't you just hate it when someone tries to cheer you uo and you just need to feel crappy for a while

Good luck.
post #13 of 15
Well my dd is only 2 so I don't know if 4 is a totally different age (having not gotten there yet) but one thing that I've found really calms her down when she's gotten herself worked up into a funk is to sing a song about whatever has got her down. Most of my songs are really silly, sometimes I make up a tune as I go and sometimes I use a tune I already know but the words are about whatever she is upset about and I try to put a postive spin on it at the end. Like "oh, Ly's upset because she wants to stay and play, but we can't play all day, we're going home now and Ly can say Hello Daddy, I love you!" or something like that. It has never failed to calm her down. Something about the combination of music and acknowledging her frustration.

Of course, that may not work when you have 4 kids to deal with all at once... But I think the key is to find a way to help the child deal with his very real and valid emotions without being vindictive (like in the story of your sister, mom of 4!) but also without giving in.
post #14 of 15
Compared to me, you are incrediably permissive. But everyone tells me I'm too hard on my dsd so take it with a grain of salt. She is five and she gets two choices, A or B. Once she picks the other one goes away. If it is clothes the other goes in the closet. If it is food the menu is taken away or she goes and sits at the table. There is never another opion given (during that incident. If we go somewhere twice, I will try to pick two different things to offer) She is being taught that everything she does has consiquenses (sp) and throwing a fit will not ever change that. The problem is that her father feels that he can be super permissism with her because we don't see her much. He said "Well I only see her for 8 weeks once a year. If I do something and it causes a behavior problem, it is her mom's issue to deal when she goes home" I don't agree at all. My house=my rules and everybody is expected to follow the same rules, whether they are there for 20 minutes or 2 years.
post #15 of 15
I just wanted to say that I agree with what the other mamas said. I am just like you with my dd and am making real progress by following some of the advice given. I also wanted to pass on to you what my mom told me today as I was having a meltdown over my caving in to buying this pink nightgown thing for dd after I had already told her no 100 times. Mom said that because I was so worried so much about things like that, and that just the fact that I was so upset about the issue and thinking so much about it and wanted to do it right made dd a very lucky girl. I pass that on to you. What lucky kids you have to have you so worried about making the right decisions for them.
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