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#1 of 17 Old 03-12-2012, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My DS is 21 months. We are roughly following the Unconditional Parenting model and avoiding punishment, rewards and bribes...among other UP practices.

 

Anyway DS has a little ear infection and I took him to the doctor today. He hates going there and is always screaming pretty hard during any kind of check. It's not massively traumatic or anything, just intense protest and I get why he feels that way. In any case, today after the doc's we happened to be near the toy store and I decided to buy him a little toy car and told him specifically that since he had had to go to the doctor I was getting him this car. I remember my mom used to take us to get a new toy after our doc appointments and it made that sometimes unpleasant experience much more palatable. I even considered if I should make this a sort of tradition; that DS gets a little toy after each doc's visit. But I felt really split if this was somehow poor parenting. Here are my thoughts:

 

I asked myself if this was some sort of bribe or reward, and decided it was not because it was / would be (if made a regular thing) absolutely not based on behavior...meaning whether or not he screamed at the doctors I would still get him a little toy. It is not a reward for "good" behavior nor an enticement to behave calmly. I would get it for him whether he protested or sat still peacefully.

 

However, it then occurred to me that this sort of thing may be discouraging him from learning to handle difficult or unpleasant experiences. Sort of like that adult feeling of : Man I need a glass of wine after a long hard day. Sure it's fine to have some wine sometimes in the evening....but it's not healthy to feel we need that wine in order to feel okay after a difficult day or experience, kwim? Am I teaching him this sort of addictive or self-medicating behavior by getting him a new toy after each doctor's visit (if I decide to keep this up)? Or am I just over-thinking this? And is this actually some sort of reward kind of thing that I should avoid in the frame of Unconditional Parenting?

 

I'd love to hear other parents' (especially those of you following the UP direction) perspectives and experiences. Have you done or do you regularly do something like this? Is it so bad, or even helpful ~or in the long run sending the wrong message?

 

Thank you!


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#2 of 17 Old 03-12-2012, 03:36 PM
 
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I think its fine.  My kids usually get a small toy, trip to the ice cream store, or something else they enjoy after a dr/dentist appt.  We don't see it as a reward/bribe, as they tend to get something regardless of their behavior (6YO DD screams when she gets shots). 

 

Do you enjoy rewards after a rough day?  I think this is ok to model for kids, as long as it doesn't go overboard.  Since dr. appts don't happen every day, it should be fine.  It is kind of a fine line to walk though.  Sometimes I wonder if my kids get stuff (toys, etc) a little to often.  They are grateful and normally well behaved though, so I will probably continue as long as  I can afford it.  :)

 



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#3 of 17 Old 03-12-2012, 04:32 PM
 
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I don't really know much about UP but here's my two cents...

Maybe a way to mitigate some of the concerns you have might be to try a non-material "reward" sometimes? Maybe sometimes he gets a new toy, but other times he gets to stop at his favorite park on the way home, or do a special craft with you, or something like that?

I certainly don't think there's anything wrong with trying to make him 'feel better' after a difficult situation but I guess I'd lean more toward not using toys (or food treats) too often. Occasionally will certainly not hurt anything but I can envision some potential issues down the line with materialism and getting comfort externally rather than from within if it's every single time (not to mention he might eventually lie & say he's sick so you'll take him to the doc & get a toy lol!) I think it's important to teach them there are many ways to comfort or reward themselves. Ice cream or a new toy are definitely valid options but so are things like taking a bath, or reading a good book, or hanging out with a friend, things that will provide comfort now but he can also rely on as an adult too. Create healthy patterns of self-care & soul nourishment so he can fall back on those someday.

Plus, I'm thinking of how many times I went to the doc as a kid (it got pretty excessive once I reached school-age) and we'd have had a ridiculous amount of toys if I got a new toy every time! So that's something to consider too.

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#4 of 17 Old 03-12-2012, 04:44 PM
 
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We try to practise UP with DS and I've read Unconditional Parenting.  Hmm, this is tough.  I don't think you are thinking of it as a reward, but might DS be?  Not a reward for behaving a certain way, but a reward for going?  I think that doing something to comfort him after an icky experience is a good thing, but I'm not sure that making it "material" is the best idea, KWIM?  What about just spending special time after?  Maybe going to the playground, reading stories, just cuddling?  To be honest I'm not even sure why the toy idea doesn't seem ok with me, I can't put my finger on it I think it's just a "mommy sense" and you must be having the same feeling or you wouldn't have posted the question...

 

 


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#5 of 17 Old 03-12-2012, 04:58 PM
 
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I think you're overthinking this.  To me, a toy after a hard time (doctor or otherwise) is no different than me bringing dh a coffee at work if he's been having a hard week, or hubby getting me flowers or an itunes card or whatever if I've been having a rough time.  I wouldn't make it an everytime thing, because I don't like to set up those expectations if it can be helped; but a little something from you to say, hey, you're having a hard day.  I know, I love you, and maybe this will help. is just fine in my book.  Getting little gifts is one of the 5 love languages according to Gary Chapman ( http://www.5lovelanguages.com/learn-the-languages/the-five-love-languages/).  I try and do a little bit of all of these to make sure my kids hear loud and clear that I love them. 

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#6 of 17 Old 03-12-2012, 05:45 PM
 
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I would have probably done the same thing. To me that is like me picking up a book when Ive had a bad day or making DH's favorite dinner when I know he had a stressful day at work. Its not dependent on the behavior, it is just because he had a bad day. As long as you don't make it a habit I don't see the big thing.


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#7 of 17 Old 03-12-2012, 08:45 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jen Muise View Post

To me, a toy after a hard time (doctor or otherwise) is no different than me bringing dh a coffee at work if he's been having a hard week, or hubby getting me flowers or an itunes card or whatever if I've been having a rough time.


or going to the gym after a long day -- because you know it will take your mind off of stuff and feel good

 

or going to a yoga class because it helps you relax.

 

Sometimes, feeling better really is about getting busying doing something else. I thing the car was an esp. good fit for this because it was something to do.

 

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#8 of 17 Old 03-12-2012, 09:48 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P.J. View Post

My DS is 21 months. We are roughly following the Unconditional Parenting model and avoiding punishment, rewards and bribes...among other UP practices.

 

Anyway DS has a little ear infection and I took him to the doctor today. He hates going there and is always screaming pretty hard during any kind of check. It's not massively traumatic or anything, just intense protest and I get why he feels that way. In any case, today after the doc's we happened to be near the toy store and I decided to buy him a little toy car and told him specifically that since he had had to go to the doctor I was getting him this car. I remember my mom used to take us to get a new toy after our doc appointments and it made that sometimes unpleasant experience much more palatable. I even considered if I should make this a sort of tradition; that DS gets a little toy after each doc's visit. But I felt really split if this was somehow poor parenting. Here are my thoughts:

 

I asked myself if this was some sort of bribe or reward, and decided it was not because it was / would be (if made a regular thing) absolutely not based on behavior...meaning whether or not he screamed at the doctors I would still get him a little toy. It is not a reward for "good" behavior nor an enticement to behave calmly. I would get it for him whether he protested or sat still peacefully.

 

However, it then occurred to me that this sort of thing may be discouraging him from learning to handle difficult or unpleasant experiences. Sort of like that adult feeling of : Man I need a glass of wine after a long hard day. Sure it's fine to have some wine sometimes in the evening....but it's not healthy to feel we need that wine in order to feel okay after a difficult day or experience, kwim? Am I teaching him this sort of addictive or self-medicating behavior by getting him a new toy after each doctor's visit (if I decide to keep this up)? Or am I just over-thinking this? And is this actually some sort of reward kind of thing that I should avoid in the frame of Unconditional Parenting?

 

I'd love to hear other parents' (especially those of you following the UP direction) perspectives and experiences. Have you done or do you regularly do something like this? Is it so bad, or even helpful ~or in the long run sending the wrong message?

 

Thank you!

 

I don't follow UP, but I've read the book, and it makes pretty good sense so I understand where you're coming from regarding this toy.  

 

I think its all about presentation.  If you say, "You were so good at the doctors! Didn't even cry once! Lets get you a new toy!" that would be seen as a reward.  But if you happen to be driving by the toy store, casually mention, "I've been meaning to stop by here. Lets go in, see if there is anything interesting..." that might be seen as just a nice gesture, yk? Especially if you really want to get him something.  I don't think there is anything wrong with that! If you have a wonderful little boy, it should be okay to buy him something once in a while.

 

Can you make a tradition out of doing something fun after going to the doctors? (As I mentioned, I don't practice UP, so I'm not sure if its appropriate) but when I go to the market, something that is so boring for two toddlers, I usually make sure to take them to the park right before.  This way they can have some excitement in an otherwise boring morning.  I don't see that as a reward, its more doing something for the heck of it before we have to do something else. Does that make any sense? Its late :) 
 

 


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#9 of 17 Old 03-13-2012, 12:03 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P.J. View Post

 I remember my mom used to take us to get a new toy after our doc appointments and it made that sometimes unpleasant experience much more palatable. I even considered if I should make this a sort of tradition; that DS gets a little toy after each doc's visit. But I felt really split if this was somehow poor parenting. Here are my thoughts:

mama your sweet little boy (LOVE your avatar) is only 21 months old.

 

i think  you are overthinking it. 

 

why not a tradition? i think its important to start one for sure. 

 

being the mother of a 9 year old let me tell you a lot of her special memories are over things, and others over her 'treasures' AKA non material things. 

 

any little piece to make things special. absolutely.

 

dd hated going to ps/dc. however we did not have a choice. getting a bagel to start the day and hang out at the bagel place laughing at silly jokes once in a while is still a very special memory for her. a bagel for dd is not 'just a bagel'. 


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#10 of 17 Old 03-13-2012, 08:01 AM
 
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I don't think he needs a new toy for every doctor's visit. That rubs me the wrong way. Instead, take a toy from home. Or stop and feed the ducks somewhere.
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#11 of 17 Old 03-13-2012, 08:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the thoughtful replies thus far!

 

I really like the idea of not always making it a toy, but anything special like a trip to his favorite playground or cooking his favorite meal or whatever. I have already practiced this (like going to the playground first, as one person mentioned) when I need to take DS out for a long trip of boring adult stuff like shopping; I guess it's the same concept.


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#12 of 17 Old 03-13-2012, 08:19 AM
 
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It's fine! I used to do that with dentist visits because ds had a really hard time with them, being orally sensitive. Now that he's older, I don't do it every time. We'll get an ice cream if he has had work done and his mouth is sore. Doing something for a 2 yo doesn't mean it's a life long commitment. For my ds, it was something to think about (look forward to) to keep his mind off an upcoming unpleasant prospect. When the appointment was over, he didn't actually need the promised thing though he still wanted it and I followed through by getting it. You could consider giving him the toy before hand if it's small and won't be disruptive during a checkup. It's more about distraction than bribery, or celebration that a task is done.


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#13 of 17 Old 03-13-2012, 10:05 AM
 
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I don't think there's anything wrong with it.  I agree it doesn't have to be a toy, but it could be sometimes.  Or a stop at a fave park.  Or an icecream cone. 


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#14 of 17 Old 03-13-2012, 10:46 AM
 
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If I had a traumatic medical experience planned I'd buy myself a purse after - is that wrong? ;) 

 

 

I think it depends - well child exams with nothing invasive?  The sticker in the office works for us.  But DD recently had a bad toe injury and had to have an IV (she's 6)  we spent the time they were placing it discussing which pillow pet she'd pick out the next day (IVs hurt and are scary for grown-ups - she was SO brave)  I have no problem with distraction like that.  Maybe it depends on age though - with a toddler - once the experience is over the connection might not be as concrete.  WIth my DD we were trying to talk about something to look forward to (after working on "blowing away the pain" - visulaization - etc) 

 

I guess with a toddler I'd try to plan something fun after to make a correlation with "doctor = park/feed the ducks/library." 


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#15 of 17 Old 03-13-2012, 10:49 AM
 
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I hate to say it, but it's kind of like taking the dog to the vet.  You shouldn't just go to the vet and home - combine it with a stop at a dog park or pet co and you're better off.  Otherwise - they just think car = VET!!!!!!   lol


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#16 of 17 Old 03-13-2012, 04:40 PM
 
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Well, I like a nice glass of wine after a hard day so keep that in your thoughts.

 

We usually have some sort of little treat for the doctor's office and I'll do it in the future too. It isn't a reward for any sort of behavior. Sometimes it is a less common snack like Veggie Booty and/or some new small art supply or a little packet of stickers or a new book etc. I see a distinction between a small scale item that might help pass the time and a large, crazy bribe like a snickers bar or a playmobil castle (no joke), both of which I've seen. I actually keep a Secret Closet of Mystery with little goodies stashed for this sort of occasion. And personally, I think this more age appropriat than DH's strategy of handing the kids his phone to play with.

 

Going to the doctor or dentist is hard for a lot of kids. It is unfamiliar, sometimes painful, and generally somewhat stressful. (This is one of the reasons why I always do well visits with the kids. It minimizes the stress for not-well visits.) If a new little toy or a sit of markers or a new coloring book help keep them distracted and comfortable in an uncomfortable situation then I think I've made the process a little smoother, a little gentler, and helped built of a positive relationship with health care.

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#17 of 17 Old 03-15-2012, 09:02 PM
 
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I don't see anything wrong with trying to associate scary but necessary things with fun things.  I gave my dd ten jelly beans each time she let me cut her nails when she was little, let her have the shopping cookie each time we went shopping, and let her have one skittle after each time she had her antibiotic when she was little and these things didn't take away from her ability to learn to handle difficult things.  If anything they seemed to make her more willing to handle new things that would be a little hard because she had already done so many hard things with a little incentive so she knew she could handle hardship.  It is somewhat behaviorist, but I don't think it is in a negative controlling way, more of a changing how his negative associations to a more positive one.  That is essentially what the sticker and sucker is at the checkout counter and you may even be able to just do that.  I don't suggest making these things something big and long term, just a small thing that is out of the norm and really good can go a long ways toward changing a child's perspective permanently. 

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