Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Manners

Lilly and Patrick both throw killer tantrums sometimes, but I realized that when I say that, it's not always clear what I mean.  My strategy (which I didn't even notice until recently) is to highlight smaller episodes of bad manners; calling those "tantrums," or reproving the kids for acting out, before they end up screaming and losing it, seems to keep a better hold on the day.

Let me explain.  Or at least sum up.  (Princess Bride, ten points.)  The other day at lunch, Patrick did something he commonly does: he quits eating, and when I ask him to take a bite, he grunts at me.  Sometimes he'll pick up food and put it between his lips, staring at me and letting it sit there.  Regardless, he very definitely is no longer eating.  This, to me, is a tantrum.  This is unacceptable behavior.

When he does something like this, I ask him if he's going to eat, or if he would prefer to throw a tantrum.  Cue more grunting.  If he continues to not eat, I tell him that there are no tantrums allowed at the table, and he must go up to his room if he doesn't want to eat.  He rarely leaves the table voluntarily, so usually I carry him upstairs.

Am I too strict?  Sometimes I think so.  But, I really do think that this cuts back on the number of blowout tantrums.  They know I don't tolerate misbehavior.  And, to be honest, I expect a lot from them.  They are almost three and a half.  Still very much young children, but also plenty old enough to cooperate.  I know my expectations are high, but it's not harming them, and it makes the rest of our lives so much nicer.

4 comments:

  1. There are a variety of opinions on parenting and raising children. Of course, you are limited to the desires of these children's parents and do not have complete decision making authority as if they were your own. Personally, we believe in a very different paradigm than the one you describe. I think you are currently in a power struggle with these little ones. I believe they are expressing the desire for more control over their own lives and bodies. If you are truly interested in learning more about different options, check out a term called "attachment parenting". Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bev, thanks for your comment. Yes, I am limited by the kids' parents, who are decidedly traditional, but it also meshes with my own style. I'm good friends with some attachment parenting moms, and have researched it extensively - and I know that even they have power struggles on a daily basis. Some of ours would not happen if I were in sole charge: eating, for example. Their mom believes they need to eat a certain amount; if it were me, I would be much more lax and let them eat what they wanted whenever, but it's not my decision. That is where the majority of our issues come from. And I don't want to sound like I'm raising little Von Trapp children either - we have lots of fun, they are both very independent kids, and I truly believe they enjoy their lives. When it comes to my own kids, some things will be very similar, while there are definitely ideas of attachment parenting that I'd like to pull. And as usual, we'll just see how it goes!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I completely understand with having to follow the wishes of the parents. :) Take a look at the website http://www.enjoyparenting.com/daily-groove/terrible-not
    He does a fantastic job at changing perspectives in parenting to a more cooperative existence. I love his posts! Anyway, I like reading about your adventures and hope you two have your own children in the near future. Our children have brought us so much joy and wisdom; they truly are amazing. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'll look through that - thanks so much for passing it on! And I hope we have our own kids soon too. ;) Though sometimes I can't imagine leaving my twins. Well, "my" twins.

    ReplyDelete