On diversions, sledgehammers, and habits

How can I help Amy to cooperate with routine matters smoothly, and how can I help her to stop digging in her heels as one misbehavior, offered correction, leads her to deeper and deeper trouble?

It doesn’t seem to be enough to say, many many times, calmly, each day, “Sit properly in your chair.” (I.e., not with one foot on the floor, turned sideways, backwards, etc; I don’t require primness, but she should face forward at least.)

It doesn’t seem to help to keep explaining again, and again, and again, how sometimes we can take our time about things, and sometimes we need to be quick — like putting on shoes and getting in the car, or getting up to pee after bedtime — or how when she needs or wants something she should ask and not just wander around the house waiting for someone to notice and read her mind.

When she’s been put in time-out and is not cooperating with it, it rarely helps to point out that continued disobedience or disrespect will result in losing the bedtime story, or the blanket, or both. She will run away, throw herself to the floor, argue, insist, get out of the chair, or any number of such things.

And when the blanket or story is lost, she wails — will she really ever make the connection? Or, will she really ever gain the impulse control to be able to make good use of the connection?

Why doesn’t discussing these things in calm times make any difference in the difficult times?

Conflict of wills is inevitable, but how can I make it smoother for all of us? How can I best come alongside her to help her develop impulse control, learn to metabolize those intense feelings, gain the ability to choose what’s right without stuffing or denying her feelings, develop habits of cooperating with ordinary daily routines so that they are no longer sources of conflict?

The way things are, I worry that I’m teaching her that she’s bad, showing her that I expect bad choices. I’m not sure, I guess, how to show that I believe in her and expect her to do well, in such a way that can help her to meet such expectations.

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7 thoughts on “On diversions, sledgehammers, and habits

  1. I have found that with children you hafta repeat all.the.time. Forever. It just doesn’t stop! ACK! Especially with five I have learned to say to myself, “Is this the mountain I wanna die on?” And if it is I do just keep repeating myself gently and redirect. (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  2. Just came back to say that I have heard that all this repeating actually DOES sink in, that youwill hear them say/draw from the things you repeated over and over while they were growing up. ~smile~ I guess it just takes them to being grown up? LOL! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  3. We are going thru a lot of the same things with Reese (3 1/2)…we’re pretty relaxed with a lot of things but wherever the lines are drawn, he fights them! Where I can we have natural consequences–the other day we didn’t have time to stop at the playground ‘cuz he chose not to put his shoes on in time. I’ve gotten a lot out of “Boundaries With Kids” by Cloud & Townsend (I do love their stuff)–lots of things can be ‘framed’ so that it’s a choice/consequence issue and not an obedience one. But there are plenty of obedience issues too…those I keep praying that he’s hearing the differentiation between obeying and “being good,” and so on. Good times, being 3.

  4. I’d like to hear more about how you think about the difference between obedience and being good.

    Amy’s been rather better lately… maybe a lot of this was due to the transition to the fall schedule with daddy back to work and preschool starting. But yes — the more we can present an attitude of “we’re coming alongside to help” the better it goes, vs. being oppositional.

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