The Honest Mommy

Uncensored thoughts on parenting & more

Here’s to compelling consequences March 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 4:07 pm
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For quite some time now, it has been a real drama to get a haircut for my 3.5-year-old, Adam. If we brought him to a friend’s house for a haircut, things went well, but at an actual haircutting place – forget it. He simply decided that he didn’t like haircuts and that they were scary; he refused to cooperate, and it was all but impossible to get the deed done.

My husband and I decided that he is now old enough to be expected to cooperate. So this morning I made an appointment for him, and told him ahead of time that if he cooperated, we would go to McDonald’s afterwards and get a treat. If he did not cooperate, he would spend the rest of the day in his room with no toys. I don’t normally use treats/rewards, but it seemed appropriate in this case.

The first few minutes at Cost Cutters were a little rough, but he could see that I meant business. He also softened up when the stylist came up with the idea of forgetting about the booster seat altogether. From that point on, things went very well. He did want to hold my hand(s) at times, but he was generally cooperative and even good-natured.

Our experience this morning was drastically different from how it’s been for the last year or so. I have to believe that the prospect of spending the rest of the day in his room gave Adam the motivation to overcome his fears. Oh yeah, and the trip to McDonald’s didn’t hurt, either! But, and this is important, if we had offered a reward but not a consequence, it would have been an offer that was too easy for him to refuse. After all, he would have missed a trip to McDonald’s but gone on with an otherwise enjoyable day.


Purple Patience March 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 3:57 pm

It is so important to have patience and to have a positive attitude. I find that when I keep myself connected to FlyLady, especially through listening to her weekly podcast, I develop something I have come to call Purple Patience. It is the atittude by which I move through my day, slow and steady, getting things done and not getting stressed out or (overly) worn out in the process. Purple Patience is the opposite of Stinkin’ Thinkin’.

When Purple Patience reigns, I do not get overwhelmed when I see messes, dirt, and clutter throughout my house. I simply check in with my daily routine and ask myself whether I have taken care of my daily routine: kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and floors. If not, I get my mind back on getting my daily routine done. If I have already done my routine, then I find a way to make progress on other things. Maybe a 27-fling boogie is in order; maybe I can make a stab at the Weekly Home Blessing Hour. If nothing else, I can manage a five (two?)-minute room rescue.

It all comes down to two things: Keeping focused on the daily routine, and keeping a positive attitude about all of the things that don’t directly fall into the daily routine. It is not about being perfect; it is about loving myself, my family, and my home. Loving myself does not mean exhausting myself trying to have a perfect home. Purple Patience gives me the perspective to see that everything I do, even if I do it imperfectly, blesses my family and my home.


I love tickets March 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 4:18 pm
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Tickets are a wonderful thing. They give me leverage so that when I decide it’s time to address a certain issue, I don’t fall into the yada-yada-yada trap, wherein I remind my son of something a dozen times a day, to no avail.

When it comes to my son’s age (3.5 years), I just don’t buy into the mindset that you have to remind your kid of something a thousand times before it sinks in. I believe that if it is something realistic and age appropriate, a child is quite likely to comply if s/he is properly compelled to do so.


3yo lost all 3 tickets by 1 p.m. March 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 8:38 pm
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By 1:00 p.m. today, Adam had lost all of his tickets. In each case, he went ahead and did something he was told not to do, or outright did not follow directions. As a result, I had to call my MIL and tell her that Adam could not come over for the afternoon, as we had planned. To her credit, she was very understanding and even supportive. Of course, she may not have been so supportive if she realized what the consequence for losing all tickets actually is (rest of the day in his room with no toys).


Trusting my instincts March 16, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 4:35 pm
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I really should trust my instincts more. If I think that my 3-year-old is trying to pull the wool over my eyes, he probably is! It is really something how often I’ll go along with something, while thinking in the back of my mind that I should know better. Then later I realize that I was absolutely, positively right.

This is something that John Rosemond encourages parents to do: Trust your instincts, and on the rare occasion that you are wrong, do what you need to do (apologize, in some instances), but don’t let it shake your confidence.


MIL getting under my skin lately

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 3:43 pm
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My MIL certainly has been getting under my skin lately.

1. When I make any comment to her about ANYTHING, she comes back with something that, although it may be meant to make me feel better, invariably comes across as if she’s minimizing what I’m saying.

2. She seems to think that Adam (3.5 years old) and Mark  (5 months) are so much alike; that whatever I’m going through with Mark isn’t much different from what I went through with Adam when he was a baby. Well, I am the mother, and I’m here to say that there is a world of difference between these two boys!

3. When it comes to disciplining Adam, I get the feeling that she doesn’t agree with much of anything we’re doing. For someone who has so many opinions about how children should behave, she certainly keeps mum about any and all strategies (e.g., tickets) that we use to establish expectations and consequences with Adam. Perhaps she is trying to keep out of the issue, which I appreciate, but the problem is that when someone keeps mum about a topic, it is easy (logical, even) to conclude that the person has ample reason to refrain from comment.

Overall, I would say that she thinks we are too strict with Adam and too hard on him, and our consequences are too harsh. What’s ironic is that she has very high expectations for children’s behavior, but at the same time she seems to live in a fantasy world where if you just EXPLAIN to a child why he should behave, then everything will come up roses. As a big fan of Rosemond, I do not believe that for one second.

We try to keep our expectations very specific; instead of “Don’t bother Daddy right now” we would instead put up an actual sign indicating that Daddy was off limits until the sign came down. We also keep our consequences very specific; instead of scolding him for misbehaving, we usually do something specific like take away a ticket and/or privilege. Sadly, I don’t feel she really supports any of this. Granted, a lot of people would find some of our  methods unusual, but the thing is that she doesn’t even make an effort to show support, for example by saying, “That is a creative idea. I bet he really understands what’s expected of him.” (Personally, I believe that any time a parent is making an effort to be consistent, reasonable,  and calm, that parent should be encouraged!)

As a result, I keep a lot of things private from her, which feels strange since she spends several hours per week watching Adam, and is itching to get time with Mark as well. If only she knew that each time she fails to treat me with respect, her dream of setting up a regular babysitting schedule with Mark gets just a little farther away!

I should also add that nine times out of ten, if we happen to mention a discipline issue with Mark, she comes up with some reason (excuse) for his behavior. Allergies, lack of sleep, time change, etc.; then there’s my favorite — the excuse that what he’s doing isn’t actually misbehaving or being disrespectful.

This particular issue really raises my hackles. I wish she could just spend a day in my shoes; for example, taking him to get a haircut or to a doctor’s appointment. In these situations, he refuses to comply with the simplest requests, and now that he’s getting older, it is getting quite ridiculous.

Now, I understand that with the benefit of age and experience, she has a different perspective and that this could be helpful to us at times. However, the problem is that she practically never (or, perhaps, just plain never) acknowledges that Adam’s behavior is misbehavior and should be dealt with as such. As the mom in these situations, I end up feeling like my MIL doesn’t respect my viewpoint, my decisions, or my actions. If she did, she would express some kind of agreement or support.


Tickets: The morning after March 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 12:24 pm
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Yesterday, my 3.5-year-old son Adam lost all 3 of his tickets. The first was for blatantly not following directions regarding getting dressed in the morning. The second and third were for arguing. He was extremely upset when I took away the third ticket and began removing all toys from his room. He then spent the afternoon and evening, until bedtime, in his room (aside from snacks and meals).

It will be interesting to see how today goes.  I have begun to question whether he really understands what arguing is, which I define by times when he responds by saying “But I don’t/didn’t want to,” “But I don’t want to wait,” and so on. It has been my belief that by giving warnings and/or taking away a ticket when he does this, he will start to learn what arguing is. I guess we will stay the course unless we come across firm evidence that what we’re doing is futile.

All in all, I believe that kids need to be convinced that you as the parent mean business. Kids aren’t likely to reach this conclusion unless they have the rug pulled out from under them, often in the form of lost privileges (NOT lost REWARDS).

Rosemond is very clear about the difference between removing a privilege and withholding a reward, and I use this as a guiding principle all the time. In short, a privilege is something that the child normally gets to do or enjoy, whereas a reward is something above and beyond that. For my son, getting a story at bedtime is a privilege, but getting a new toy at the store (or even a sticker on a chart) is a reward. I also consider having toys to play with to be a privilege that can be taken away.


A quick attitude turn-around March 6, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 4:24 pm
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From the way my 3.5-year-old had been acting all morning, one would have thought that he was simply incapable of being pleasant — too tired, perhaps?

Amazingly, once his supply of tickets dwindled to just one, he turned into the most pleasant young man you could hope to be around.

Of course, I made sure to go over all of the rules, and the consequence for losing all three of his tickets, which is to spend the rest of the day in his room with no toys.


Ticket system evolves at our house

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 3:45 pm
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Over the last few days, I got the gut feeling that it was time to reduce my 3.5-year-old’s number of tickets for each day from four to three. I finally did so this morning, and also went over the rules with my son.

It has been a rough few days with him. It seems that he has gotten behind on sleep – AGAIN – despite our efforts to protect his sleep schedule. This certainly has an effect on his behavior, but I believe that we have to stay consistent with discipline even when he’s tired (unless he’s getting over a bad bout with an illness, or has gotten off schedule due to travel or something beyond his control).

When he’s tired, he is definitely more active (hyper), less focused, and more prone to pout and resist following directions.

My challenge is to stay consistent with the tickets, and to enforce rules disapassionately. Over and over again, I learn (or, perhaps, don’t quite learn) that when I get annoyed, that is his payoff.