Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Coping

Sometimes, the only way I can cope with the three-year-old-ness is by saying, "I can't talk to you until you do X," where X is the thing I have told him he needs to do. It's usually something completely unreasonable, like putting on his underpants. And then I have to question my methods while I listen to, "But Mo-ooooommmmm! I don't LIKE underpants! I like rough things!" (I told him he has to wear underpants because his pants will be too rough without them.)

Would you like to know how long a three-year-old can claim to "LIKE rough things" incessantly? I'll tell you. Forty-five straight minutes.

So let me ask you this. Is it a legitimate parenting strategy to calmly say, "I cannot talk to you or play with you until you put on your underpants," and then ignore the whining for forty-five minutes except for occasional repetitions of the "I can't talk to you" thing? Or is there a better strategy? I can usually keep it together enough to maintain a calm tone when I tell him I can't talk to him, but I often end up telling him he is driving me bananas and making me angry. I haven't yelled yet, but I am only human and there is a definite timbre of impatience and anger in my voice. I use this "technique" when I feel like I will LOSE MY MIND if I have to argue with him for one more second, and ignoring him seems better than losing it and screaming at him. I also use this method when I don't want to put him in time out because he will scream and wake the baby and then I will LOSE MY MIND.

What do you think?

13 comments:

SP said...

Completely reasonable and hopefully effective. You are fighting the good fight. Stop the commando now before he starts leaving skid marks in his pants and shorts and brother's favorite shirt. Yes, shirt. In an effort to drive his brother crazy, boy2 wore boy1's favorite shirt as a pair of shorts and danced around the house. The problem was that he was laughing so hard that he farted...

maggie said...

See, this is why I will never write The Discipline Post because other people say "I haven't yelled yet" when yelling is the first thing I'd do and at this point I'd be throwing him out the window.

When all else fails I remove J from my sight. We still have a crib, but perhaps a bedroom would work as well? Anywhere where I don't have to listen to him. Also, we have discussed it and we are skipping Three in this house.

Dr. Maureen said...

I end up doing my yelling on Twitter and/or Facebook. I find it helps relieve the tension, because while my VOICE is saying, "I can't talk to you until you X," the voice in my HEAD is screaming, "JUST BLEEPING X ALREADY FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY!"

Swistle said...

I like that method, and I also like the one where I say with deep regret that if he/she doesn't put on his underpants, I'll have to do it for him/her. (This does NOT work on the child who WANTS me to do it. It only works on the child who wants to do it MYSELF but then DOESN'T.)

Tracy said...

totally legitimate. totally reasonable. Should work, may not. Depends on the kid.

good luck.

(whining in my house could only happen in their bedroom. Worked on one child, didn't work on the other, who was THRILLED to just sit in their room and read or do something. But I didn't have to listen to the whining anymore ;-).)

Becca said...

This is why they should have boarding school for three year-olds. We had a giant tantrum this morning because I wanted him to go potty before we left for happy fun time at the playground and he wanted to lay on the floor weeping. Short version--I gave up, he had a potty accident at the playground and had to wait almost half an hour for dry pants, the next time I asked him to try he complied without incident. I am going to try your technique next time. I like it.

Dr. Maureen said...

You know, I was just thinking, and when I said "I haven't yelled yet," I'm pretty sure I lied. I haven't SCREAMED yet, which is what I WANT to do in these situations. But sometimes I sort of yell. It's a mad, exasperated, louder-than-usual voice that qualifies as yelling even though the volume isn't super loud. I don't do it that often though, considering. I am going to go ahead and give myself props on that one. I think it's because I'm just not a yelly person. Also, I say some Hail Marys when it's that or scream and scream.

Fran said...

I think that sounds like an awesome idea!! I may have to steal it!!

Krizzzz said...

I'm a yelly person.

Always have been. Fight it every day, sometimes by the skin of my fingernails, as it were. And I generally feel like so much wombat slobber about it. As Willow once said on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when Giles asked how she was coping, "Well, you know. Some days are harder than the...REALLY hard days."

So I think your strategy is a really really good one. On good days, that's the kind of thing I can do: disengage, refuse to be drawn in, I'm sorry you feel that way but these are the rules, etc.

Miss Grace said...

I lock myself in the bathroom.

Dr. Maureen said...

Miss Grace: I did that too. But only because I was unable to extricate my legs from his grasp quickly enough to lock myself in the comfier bedroom.

Mountain Momma said...

I think offering kids a choice is the best method to get them to do things. It can be a trick, like either choice is getting them to do something beneficial - like "OK, you can either do your homework or get your PJs on. Which is it?" For some reason, they don't see the deceit, and it almost always works.

nicole said...

I think you are on the right track. Good luck!