Tuesday, May 6, 2014

By Force or By Bribe?

This weekend we had an interesting parenting moment that I still haven't quite processed.  As EG is getting older, we're having to start disciplining her and getting her response from our requests.  Generally speaking she does very, very well.  Once I've used a sort of time out:

"EG please bring your backpack inside"
"EG I will ask you one more time, please bring your backpack inside."
Sit her on the bench in the entryway:
"Okay, you can sit here until you go and pick-up your backpack and bring it inside"
"I go outside, backpack"

Simple, effective and totally worth the effort.  Usually our I believe in giving choices, always careful that they are all options that I'm okay with:

"EG we won't be buying that item.  You can give it to the sales clerk, to Mommy or put it back where you found it."

Typically she chooses to give it to the sales clerk, and I politely explain that we don't want this item.  Sometimes she gets a little mad and lashes out a bit with hitting, but I grab her hand and explain that I know she's upset and disappointed, but that hitting is never okay.  It lasts about 5 seconds and generally we're okay.  The picture above was taken after I told her we were leaving, and she wanted to play on the slide. I explained that we needed to get home to Daddy, we couldn't play on the slide, but if she wanted to she could walk up the stairs and back down them on her way to the gate.  A good compromise- as you can see from the joy on her face.

Our typical response to her tantrums (on the floor, crying/screaming) are to ignore them.  We've been doing this since she was about 15months old, so it's definitely gotten across that these incidents don't get her what she wants.

But what do you do when you really don't have a choice?  When you absolutely have to have your child do what you need them to do right this second.  And no, I'm not talking about walking down the aisle as a flower girl.

I mentioned in the flower girl post that we put a bit of make-up on EG's face.  Earlier that day she had tripped and had a full-face run-in with the edge of her crib.  I tried to put Ice on it, but she didn't want it, and I thought everything was fine.  Fast forward about an hour or so and Working Dad gets a chance to see her.  He's really upset and thinks its possible she might have a concussion or some other type of injury and feels like we really, really, really need to get some ice on her head.

So, he explains to her that she needs the ice.  She resists.  He holds her hands down and forces the ice on her head.  She's screaming and crying and I'm desperately resisting the need to say "is this really necessary" because I know he wouldn't be doing it to her if he didn't think it was absolutely necessary. 

When we've been to the doctor we've occasionally had to restrain EG.  They need to look in her ears, etc.  But generally we've gotten good cooperation out of her, and we have enough time to think through a few options before we physically restrain her.

This weekend she asked for her blanket, and I took her on my lap to try to calm her a little.  Her little voice crying, struggling and saying "no daddy, no daddy, no" just about broke my heart.  We put on her first movie (first time we deliberately let her watch something) "FROZEN" but even that wasn't enough to distract her. 

Eventually I suggested that maybe she could lay down on daddy's lap and on the ice that way, so she would get the ice on her eye, but possibly be more comfortable.  That worked, watching the movie, having her blanket and laying down.  And I'm so thankful I thought of it!  But I'm not thrilled with the idea that our way of getting her to do what we needed was to force her into it.  There will come a time when we won't be able to force her- when she's old enough to run away, or hit back and really mean it.  And I want to teach her that she's the boss of her body, so do I really know if she needs ice better than she does?

I'm still trying to process what happened, and how we might do better next time.  I realize that what will help is her getting older- therefore knowing what a concussion is, and other words we might use to convince her how serious it is and how important it is to get the ice on her head.  But what about now...?

What do you do when you absolutely must have your child do something they don't want to?

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