Friday, November 4, 2011


I am delighted that Mr. Q and I have figured out Ramona.  It has made our family life so much more peaceful over the past few months.

She will respond beautifully to a direction/instruction that she doesn't mind doing.  Putting on shoes or a jacket to go outside ?  Wiping down the table ?  Carrying Mommy's water to the car ?  No problem.  She will even respond appropriately to an instruction that she doesn't necessarily like about 70% of the time.

But it's a few things and the other 30% that are a challenge.  Just like you are never supposed to stare a rabid dog in the eyes (or is it a bear ?) we rarely give Ramona a direct order for something she is not fond of if she is feeling a little ornery.  For example, "Ramona, go brush your teeth" may result in the exact opposite and may result in tears, running around naked, or hiding under the bed in the way back corner.  Instead, we say brightly "I saw some money on the floor in the bathroom earlier today, I wonder if it is still there."  After she runs to the bathroom to look, we casually put the toothbrush in her hand and chat about finding money in funny places and it works like a charm.

I even enlist Beezus to help.  For the most part, we try to let Ramona go to the bathroom when she feels the urge.  But there are times when I KNOW she has to go and she just won't stop what she is doing.  So, I whisper to Beezus and she says in a sing-song voice "I have to go to the potty.  Here I go into the bathroom."  Ramona will jump up and run in there to beat Beezus.  I follow along, grab her favorite book, and say "Oh, look what I found.  Your book, Ramona.  I'll read it to you while you are sitting there."

About 40% of the time she will pick up her belongings after a brief prompt/instruction; another 40% I will work right along side her; and then there is the other 20 %.  In those cases I whisper to her "I wonder if you or Esther will be able to pick up and put away 5 things and be finished first ?  I'll help you."  (I know, I know I should be ashamed).

For the most part, I believe that there is a wide range of acceptable parenting behaviors.  Of course, mine work best for my family, and yours work for yours.  But no matter how well these techniques work with Ramona, I worry about them.  I want her to be able to respond to an instruction even if she doesn't want to.  Conceding to these "tricks" definitely accomplish the goal (brushing teeth) and they make whatever transition it is run smoother.  But I'm not sure they develop character.  Or is it okay to only develop character some of the time and not all of the time ?

Do you have any parenting practices that totally work for your family now but probably aren't character developing or good options for the long term ?


Laurie said...

I used to always feel like my kids were puzzles but that the pieces kept shifting. Anyway, you sound like a budding child psychologist with your approach :)

(Not) Maud said...

You mean like feeding my five-year-old a peanut-butter sandwich for lunch and another for dinner every day? Like that?

Rachel et Natalie said...

that sounds great to me
at home when they do not clean up I sometimes tell them that their stuff will go to the trash

LazyBones said...

I just followed your comment on Robin's dress code dilemma over here to your blog. We may be coming at this from different perspectives b/c you wrote that you're a rule-follower, whereas I'm sometimes a rule-breaker, but I think what you're doing here is great! You're adjusting your techniques to get compliance to accommodate her age and appropriate development. And you're also modeling creative problem solving, and how to gently and kindly influence people in order to inspire cooperation. As adults, we approach people to ask for help, or a raise, or recognition, with awareness that we should take into account what will inspire them to cooperate with us. Why not approach kids the same way? It sounds like you've done a wonderful job working with her, instead of against her!

I, too, worked part-time, in a field where I helped people (teaching), and I was just laid off and am home with my 2 kids. I sometimes wonder if I will ever again find part-time work as meaningful and enjoyable as the job I just lost. Glad to read that it's possible! It was nice to stumble across your blog!


Marya said...

My father has a very strict rule about interfering with our parenting. He will never give his opinion or weigh in unless he is asked or he believes that the decision will cause true and permanent damage to our children's physical or spitirual well-being. Keep in mind that he is a very conservative Christian and when I told him I was converting to Judaism all he said was, "Can I have a yarmukle with a smiley face on it."

I relay this because I truly believe that you are giving Ramona a gift. The gift of loving her enough to not want to cause her unnecessary emotional distress. Tantrums are exhausting and anxiety is real at any age. You are not letting her off the hook. She still has to clean up her toys, brush her teeth and go to the bathroom. You are not scarring her or causing her harm. In my opinion you are showing her love. I have seen you draw the line with your children when you thought it necessary. For these types of things if there ia another way, please use it and pat yourself on the back.

If my Dad didn't think that converting to Judaism would damage me spiritually (seriously, VERY conservative Christian who studied toward his doctorate in theology) then making the tasks that Ramona doesn't like a little more intersting and desireable won't even leave a mark. My 2 cents.

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