So I am on day 10 of no rewards and punishments here. Things were spiraling out of control. I used to pride myself on being able to spin anything into a "natural consequence" but I found myself constantly saying, "If you don't xyz then we can't abc" and it really didn't seem to be working if I was doing it all the time? If it was working, wouldn't I be able to stop doing it? Then one day in the car Savana said to me that she felt like kids and dogs were treated the same. If they did what their owners wanted them to do, they got to do what they wanted to do. Hmmmm. I also started to hear them bargaining with each other. "I am not going to help you clean that up unless you play cats me." At first I was thinking to myself WHERE did they learn that? And I realized from me! "If you don't brush your teeth, we aren't going to be able to read bedtime stories. If you don't hurry up and get your buckle on, we are not going to be able to play at the park." Basically, if you don't do what I say, I will get you back for it. So I stopped cold turkey and I must say things are much more pleasant arpund here. I don't even know what I'm doing instead. But for example, last night Kai refused to get his pull up "unless I let him watch a show" (See what I've done here!?:() and I just patted his head and said Ok. Then I went about our bedtime routine and got our books out and eventually, he just quietly did it. It's been alarming to me how many times I had to switch gears in a day, how many times I was about to formulate a "natural consequence" and how much less tantrums, arguments, and tears there have been since since I stopped.
That's wonderful Bridget!!!
That's great Bridget.
I struggle with this ALL.THE.TIME. And I hate it. I haven't quite figured out how to get around it. It usually revolves around bedtime. UGH.
That's great B!
We thrive off doing things in a Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 sort of fashion. DH struggles with it sometimes, I think he just assumes Nolan knows what is coming next (or he's just in a hurry). Nolan needs that fore-warning, ending things abruptly cause a melt down. Between his 'particularness' and his strong desire for independence it can get pretty dramatic if we don't do it that way.
Would love to get updates on how that's going, Bridget. I honestly haven't bothered with 'natural consequences'. My basic premise for Mira is that if she cannot be pleasant/be nice/do what is asked of her nicely, then others aren't going to be nice/do what she asks/listen to her, etc. It's a tough concept for a 3 year old, and I know that I am overly punitive. For instance, most of her toys are currently residing on top of the bookshelves, because she threw a mega tantrum where she threw her toys, and kicked, and spit. Most of our problems stem from behaviors that impede with stuff that have deadlines attached to it. I'll just say 'Okay, if you don't go to bed now, you'll be too tired to do X tomorrow, or wake up too late for Y tomorrow' and let that slide (and then there WILL be fall out when she can't do X or Y the following day), but I can't very well do that when she is pitching a fit about something when we have a doctor's appointment or something with an associated deadline.
This parenting thing is tough, no matter how many user manuals one reads.
Glad that is working for you Bridget....But definitely hard for me to understand. So the kids get to just do what they want and when they want? Don't rewards and punishments prepare one for adult life? I mean we all have to follow rules and if we don't, we get punished (jail, lose your job and money)....and if we do what we should, sometimes there are rewards (get more money to buy stuff we want, get to take a cool trip we want, time to do some activity we want).
I mean sometimes we do stuff because it's good and right....but sometimes we do stuff because there is something in it for us or not doing it goes against us. Or even in the playing example, I'm not sure that I see a problem with that. I remember playing what my sister wanted in return for her doing what I wanted....which has turned into a very useful skill as an adult. There are many times I do what my DH wants (like I really want to go to a train museum) but because I do that, it makes him happy and in return will go visit some store or place I want.
It is a shame that they don't come with manuals though. I was back home visiting over the weekend and oh my is my very newly turned 9 yr old cousin copping some major attitude...while we were he got electronics taken away. Tantrums at baseball when he doesn't get to be the pitcher, rude and condescending comments to his sister (she is 2 yrs older but a bit on the special needs end of things due to fetal alcohol syndrome)...when she is just a nice sweet girl with never a mean thing to say. Just a lot of crab and sass. His moms are too quick to blame the biological father as he supposed had anger management issues....but the rest of the family thinks that is just too much weight on that and we actually see a lot of his attitude coming from one of his moms. I told DH on the way home that when we see our kid doing something annoying, naughty, irritating.....we need to take a look at ourselves. I already know that with DH, a lot of his worst traits come from his stepfather all those years.
I've got a couple of questions for you guys.
Would you let your child correct an adult? For instance, Mira's nanny is from Bolivia, and has a pretty thick accent. When she mispronounces things, Mira will correct her. I'm uncomfortable with that, but the nanny doesn't seem to mind. Should I just let it be? And what should be the extent of that? Say for instance, someone is incorrect on the facts, and she corrects them, is that acceptable? I used to get in big trouble for doing similar things as a child (but that might be an Indian thing, I don't know).
Is it not okay to say that one's child is average? Not to her, of course, but to others? I get strange looks when, in the course of conversation, I say that Mira is (because she certainly is quite average, and well, aren't most people?). Not acceptable to say anything but that one's child is an extra special snowflake?
Also, I think there's a fine line between doing things for others because it makes you both feel good, and using 'good deeds' as a bargaining tool. I too would feel uncomfortable with my kids offering to help 'if only you play ___ with me' The reality is, if one person (adult or child) helps, they both feel good. The one that received help will feel more inclined to participate in a less than favorable game because being helped made them feel good. Putting a condition on help, though, makes the person who needs help feel beholden, so while they may play the game, the undercurrent of feelings could be more begrudgingly rather than just wanting to give something out of the kindness of their hearts.
I hope I'm making sense. I know what I mean in my head :) lol
I'm not sure what you mean about average. I think all kids have areas where they're less than, equal to, and above average. I, like most American moms, like to talk more about the area where they're above average :P I might talk about their less-than-average traits too with my very close friends, especially if it's something that's stressful or worrisome for me.
As far as a child being average, I don't really know how to answer that. I know I've mentioned before how much I under-play Nolan's capabilities. I think context would really play into how I would take that coming from another parent. I don't think it is neccesary to pretend that our child(ren) are fantastic at everything, the reality is we all have strengths and weaknesses.
Maybe what's bothering me is less the fact that she corrects, than that she can be bossy. Not that she's bossy when she is correcting, but she has a tendency to be bossy britches, and I worry that this plays into that. I'll keep an ear out for tone, talk to the nanny and take it from there.
The whole 'average' thing came about in different conversations. Sometimes, it's in the 'Mira is so smart!', context, to which my response is that she has a good vocabulary, so it might seem that way, but she is quite an average 3 year old. Sometimes, it's in the 'My kid is in this school because he/she is special and I want to him/her to have an advantage when he/she goes to public school' context, to which my response is that Mira seems quite average, and to me, it didn't make any sense to pay the same to send her to daycare where she wasn't learning anything (most especially discipline and structure), so she's going to the school, and it doesn't really have anything to do with smarts or getting ahead. The honest truth is that I feel that most people are quite average in pretty much everything, myself (Mira and DH) included, some people have specific things where they excel, and some people have lots of thing that they have a special ability for. I don't know, I just get the feeling that not thinking of one's child as 'gifted' is some sort of failing as a parent or something.
You seem to have a more "down to earth" attitude about your child. You're not saying anything wrong or bad, but that crowd probably isn't used to that belief system in ones own child.
I mean it's fantastic if that works....the whole concept of no rewards and punishments is so foreign to me that it's not totally making sense in my head. Definitely interesting though!
Most parents I know either think their child is the next Einstein. Than of course you have my husbands family where telling your kids they are 'idiots' or 'dumb' is appropriate :eyeroll:
Um...I don't even have a kid yet and mine will not even be genetically related to me and I already can tell that I would be inclined to feel my kid is above average. LOL Doesn't mean at everything or perfection but I think I would probably see kid with rose colored glasses.
I mean I would have shot daggers at anyone who said Cosmo wasn't cute when she was little because to me she was the cutest dog every. Looking back at her photos....OMG my princess sure had an awkward phase. And she is most definitely above average for doggies.
I would even probably say Molly is above average though closer to average minus a few really irritating things like whining in the car and being scared so easily of new things.
Haha, I cannot see me ever not verbalizing things. Just yesterday I was trying to get Molly to potty at grandpas and she wouldn't go....and we had a long drive and she doesn't like to go on leash at stops. I kept telling her over and over and over and my MIL was like, if I had a dollar for everytime you said that, I would have 100 bucks by now. LOL Well she finally went and got lots of praise. Cosmo went like six times while I was out there with them. LOL Show-off.
About the average thing -- I think we're living in an era where you're right, Suja, it's become shocking to hear someone opine that their kid is anything but brilliant. There's a really great author, Madeline Levine, who is a psychologist here in Marin county. She's written a couple of books - the newest one, Teach Your Children Well, is one I'm sure would resonate with many of the ladies in here. Anyway, when she was stumping for that book she wrote a cover story for a local paper, and it was amazing and speaks directly to this issue. Here's the article (sorry, the online version has bad formatting, but you can get the gist):
In the article, she says she once arranged to give a talk entitled "The Average Child," and nobody came. She also says that today's parents are so afraid of having average children that if their kids aren't performing to their high standards, even if they're still statistically normal, the parents push for them to be diagnosed with a learning disability. They'd rather think their kids are learning disabled than that they're just not brilliant. It's a really interesting concept.
Okay, so those of you who are better at this stuff help me figure it out.
Just now, I asked Mira to take a shower. She said no, started to cry, saying that she showered yesterday, so she doesn't want to do it today. With few exceptions, she showers daily, because she gets extremely sweaty, and her hair especially smells quite ripe when she doesn't. I could've said fine, don't shower, and then she'd do it again and again, whenever she finds it convenient. So, how would you approach that? This is one of our daily battles, because she doesn't like getting her hair/face wet (I think).
When it's a health or hygiene issue, in our family it's just something we insist on matter-of-factly even if the kid protests. Like you would if she was throwing a fit about being in her carseat. Sorry, sweetheart, but we have to go now, and it's the law. So you can get in happily or get in screaming. It's up to you.
We've had to do that with brushing teeth. Noe went through a period where she freaked out about us brushing her teeth, but it was just non-negotiable. So we made sure to give some sympathy for the fact that she was feeling sad/mad/frustrated, but we just repeated "this is what we do every night, so your teeth can be healthy." Then we held her down, forced her mouth open, and brushed through the screams and tears. And the phase actually didn't last too long because she figured out she'd have to cry every night and it was exhausting. But if she did still cry, we'd still do it, because cavities.
But I guess the shower thing is a little more like hairbrushing. Noe screams when I brush her hair -- she has a very sensitive scalp but even when I'm super, super gentle she still freaks out. Red face, tons of tears, chokes and gags because she's crying so hard... and all I do is run the brush through her hair. And in that case, honestly, there are times I just don't bother. I like her hair to be neat, but there have been some recent days we've gone out to run errands with a big knot or cowlick or bedhead in the back of her head because I just wasn't up to the screaming. But if we're going somewhere where her hair has to be neat, or when she had her ballet recital, then I just grit my teeth and get ready for an eardrum assault. And I feel bad that she's so sad, of course, but dang, that's life. Some things just suck and we still have to do them.
I think there are some things with parenting that ARE negotiable, and I tend to give my kids more autonomy than some parents. But having to get clean is kind of a fact of life. Can you give her any say in how it's done? Would she prefer a bath so she can keep her face dry? Can she put a washcloth over her face when you wash her hair? Or maybe put a few fun things in the shower to entice her? Noe likes to bring a big bowl in there and some sponge animals, and she likes to have some time that she calls "rain time" where we leave the shower just dripping a little so she can play with the water without it getting all over her.
She is almost completely in charge of the shower. I wash her privates, her face and hair. I don't run water on her face, just dip my hand into water and wipe her face. With the hair, I have her tilt her head back, so the water doesn't end up on her face. The rest is up to her. She has toys that she may or may not take in. She won't take baths anymore, because the bathtub makes 'glug, glug' noise. I often have a 'suck it up, buttercup' type of mentality, and I wonder if that's right, wrong, or what.
The article is awesome, Gretchen. That's kind of how I feel. Considering our county gets a 'dishonorable mention' in there, I can see why I would be out of place. DH for sure used to think that she was extra special, and I think that it broke his heart a little to realize that she really isn't at this stage, just your normal, average, 3 year old (which is plenty good). I am trying very, very hard to modulate my own hypercompetitive tendencies when it comes to her. Oh, and I can't remember if I mentioned it, but one of the little girls in her classroom has been put into a "special school" for 'gifted' kids. She is quite mature and definitely ahead of the curve, but I think it's kind of ridiculous for a 3 year old to be in a 'gifted' school (she is NOT a genius).
You did mention it and I think it's sad. So tough to be setting these kids up for these heightened expectations. And she was in Montessori, too, which is doubly ridiculous because they are so flexible in curriculum. DD1 was "advanced" academically at an early age, and I loved that she was in a Montessori classroom because they could be flexible to meet her needs. Surely the child you mention isn't working past the level of the 6 year olds in the class -- and if she is, then maybe I can agree that she needs alternative schooling opportunities. But so often it's just the parents projecting this stuff on their kids, and it does them such a disservice -- funny to think that it's really doing the opposite of what they think it's doing.
I can't remember if I mentioned in here that I talked to a family friend about dd1 wanting to go to community college, and that he acted like I'd just said she wanted to spend two years hooking and smoking meth. The attitude is so pervasive that early academic success of a certain nature = happiness, and it's so wrong (see Dr. Levine's other book, The Price of Privilege, for discussion on that topic).
As for the "suck it up" mentality -- I've witnessed parents overdo it, but I think that happens when parents use it punitively or for things that aren't necessities. The fact that you're wondering about it makes me think you're fine.
With regards to both the "telling kids they're extraordinary" thing, and the "rewards/punishment" thing... I'm trying to think of the best way to articulate my philosophy on it...
I feel as though I would serve Bodhi best if I teach him to always be motivated by his own intrinsic reward system. So when it comes to whether I will tell him he's "better than..." anything, I feel like I would be setting him up for a lifetime of comparing himself to others, which I feel is a recipe for unhappiness - no matter how talented you are. Whereas, if I teach him to measure his worth/efficacy against goals he sets for himself and makes incrementally more difficult, that will be an endless source of growth and fulfillment for him throughout his lifetime.
Also, I agree that, in an ideal world, Bodhi would understand the natural consequences of things and be motivated by an aversion to negative natural consequences or conversely an attraction to positive ones. (Since he's still Mr. Instant Gratification at his age and I don't expect him to foresee longterm consequences, I'm not above employing the punishment/reward system. However, similar to Bridget's situation, I'm seeing that he's learning some negative things from it. For example, he's also been telling me, "if you don't let me abc, I'm not going to xyz", so I too am keenly interested in how all that pans out for you Bridget.)
I think I will go home and have a natural consequences pow wow with DH tonight. Sometimes he sets up such arbitrary rules for B that not only are they unnatural consequences, but they're consequences that don't make any sense. Stuff like, "you have to finish ALL your chicken B, or we won't have a story tonight." That's when I usually glower and roll my eyes at him. That type of threat from DH a) is never followed-thru and b) has never worked to get B to finish all of his whatever. Ugh.
DD is naturally phobic of not following rules. We saw Monsters University this past weekend, and she hid her eyes and got scared at all the parts where the Monsters were breaking the school rules, and not when they were actually scaring the kids or roaring loud scary roars.
I wish she could give a little bit of that to both of my sons, who have been taking turns hitting me.
You know, I don't know exactly what is going to happen when I find something that absolutely has to happen and they refuse. Since my cold turkey stopping what I was doing, it has not happened. Tonite Kai said he would not brush his teeth no matter what. I just told him cavities are really unpleasant and he decided to do it.
But I am surely lenient about baths and hairbrushing. And I disagree that rewards and punishments teach children about the real world. I find way more valuable teaching moments in using reasoning and compromise. It takes a lot more time than, "do it now or lose your bedtime story" but honestly, it feels better. I'd rather bedtime takes longer and they know that bedtime stories happen no matter what. (just one example)
And Chrissy, thanks for clarifying:) 'Tis true that it was getting constant here, the tit for tat.