Monday, January 14, 2008

I Think I Broke My Blog...

... but that's neither here nor there.

But here's a parenting light bulb that went off in my head recently. (This will be of questionable helpfulness, as some, ok, MOST of you are probably a little quicker on the uptake than I am...)

Also, you are going to have to pay attention while reading this, because I'm not feeling especially articulate today. And I'm not going to fuss with the wording, because, well, BECAUSE. OK?

So here's the thing-- it works better to NOT solve my kids' problems. When I offer a solution, they immediately reject it, wanting things THEIR OWN WAY DAMNIT. (And I'm sorry to say that I have a bit of a potty mouth, so the "damnit" is not too far from accurate coming from their mouths. Sigh. My grandma says cussing, in our family, is hereditary. Have you ever heard of a funnier explanation to having Sailor Mouth???? So sorry, it's in the genes. Nothing I can do... Want to see my attached earlobe?)

But back to my parenting epiphany. Here's an example:

We are getting ready to leave our friends' house to drive 1 hour back to our house. Kate is crying, because she ALWAYS cries these days, whenever we have to go anywhere (different post). She said she was crying because she didn't want to sit "soooo faaarrrr from Moooomy and Dadddddy, gulp, sob, wahhhhhh." We had our neighbor, JJ, with us, so he needed to sit in the middle row next to Marin, while the twins are in the far back seat.

Obvious solution? Move Kate's car seat next to Marin, and let JJ sit next to Joan. I thought of this immediately. But had I offered that she would have been all "NOOOOOO, sob, sob, I don't want to leave because it's dark" or some other (equally maddening) reason. But instead, I said "Well, what should we do?" She sobbed and carried on some more (again, all par for the course for Kate these days) and then suddenly realized the solution. Because it was HER idea, she was all smug and satisfied and QUIT BLUBBERING.

I think, when they were babies, I trained myself to be the Problem Solver. I had TWO to keep from squalling, so I had to be quick, always on my toes. I have still been operating in this Mode, but it is no longer necessary (or effective). So now? I zip it. I wait for them to figure it out.

Like I said, it probably wouldn't take most of YOU 5 years (well, ok, maybe 3, since my previous method probably worked well until they were about 2) to figure it out.

But on the off chance that YOU have a strong-headed preschooler that rejects EVERYTHING you say, try saying "What should we do?" instead of "How about we try...."


(As I said, this is of QUESTIONABLE USEFULNESS. Stop rolling your eyes.)


Tessie said...

Cussing IS hereditary, isn't it? I've noticed a certain TREND in my own family. Ahem.

I like the idea of asking them to solve their own problems. I've always heard of parents who, when a child missed the bus for example, would ask, "Well, what do you think you should do?". Which, you know, encourages problem-solving, whereas my mom was all "GET YOUR DAMN COAT AND GET YOUR ASS IN THE CAR!".

Lora said...

It's so funny because sometimes I get to use my professional career stuff in the blogosphere more than at actual work! This is the second post like this I've read today
"Controlled Choices" always work best. Kids are dumb (err, immature)! Let them think they are in charge! Give them two choices, but make sure you can live with them. Jeans or khakis? Apple or cheese?

This way you are fostering independence and maturity and growth and getting your way!

Lora said...

thank god for the blogging moms. it's what makes me feel normal and human.

here's the post i mentioned in my other comment

Anonymous said...

I love the term "controlled choices". I also love your "save your breath" attitude because it is genius. I hope I remember it.

Marie Green said...


About controlled choices...
Nice concept, but still doesn't work with my kids.

Merely SAYING PB&J or Chicken Soup makes it MY idea. With them, I have to say NOTHING.

So, while we do offer choices, I've recently discovered that simply saying "What should we have for lunch" goes farther. Also, they are old enough to know better than to answer "Cheetos and Chocolate!" (And if they did, I'd retain my right for a VETO, well, maybe, since Cheetos and chocolate DOES sound good...)

So it's more like Shelley was saying- save your breath. Don't jump in right away. Give it a few minutes.

Also, Tessie, my mom was the same way... get your ass in the car- heard those words a FEW DOZEN times growing up. =)

clueless but hopeful mama said...

This is NOT of questionable usefulness. I find it very useful and helpful. Zoe's 20 months old and we're just getting into the whole choices strategy.

(Also useful? the genetic basis for cussing. My dad's got the worse Sailor Mouth and I've always blamed the ENVIRONMENT I was raised in. Now, I can add to the layers of blame.)

I think it's really easy to get stuck in the old ways of doing things even though our kids change daily (which is really freakin' annoying).

Oh, and wanting to feel in control is something I can totally relate to. My inner toddler makes a great parent sometimes!

d e v a n said...

I think that it is helpful! My parents were like what Tessie mentioned except it would have been more like, "Quit crying or I'll give you something to cry about!! Now get in the car. NOW!"

*ahem* I hope I never hear those same words fly out of my mouth.
I love your "what should we do?" idea. Nice!

Swistle said...

My twins are 2.5 years old, and this is JUUUUUSSSST starting to work with them. Their little brains are not QUITE developed enough to understand, but SOON!

Erin said...

Oh! This is a great idea! Can you remind me again in, like, 2 years? thanks.

Tracy said...

So I use that tactic on my husband, does that count? Here is my question to you? Do you have one BOSSY child that knows all the answers? How do you deal with that?