Once upon a time I was a teacher. A teacher with fairly strong classroom management skills. I would give a warning and if that particular behavior continued it would result in a consequence. No matter what adorable sad face they gave me, I followed through. Then I had kids of my own and those “skills” seemed to fly right out the window.
Lately, asking my 3-year-old to perform basic tasks (putting on clothes, going potty, picking up her toys) that she once did without a problem now often result in a tantrum or at least an attitude. Not all the time, but enough. Three warnings later (what a joke) I’m practically pleading with this child to do what it is I asked to do in the first place, because I don’t want to be the bad guy and put her in time out, or not let her have ice cream, or whatever it is I threatened to begin with. I just want to live in perfect harmony, damnit! Is that really too much to ask?
We had an “incident” a few nights ago. Part of Caroline’s bedtime routine is to try going potty before we take her upstairs to read and snuggle. For a while now she will insist that she doesn’t need to use the bathroom first thing in the morning or right before bed. Just as we do every night before bed, my husband simply asked her to try to go to the bathroom. Many times she’ll kick, scream, cry to the point of gagging and call out “Mommy! I want mommy!” over and over again until I give in and try to keep the peace. This particular night became the last straw for my husband. He warned her that if she didn’t use the potty, and continued acting out, she would have to go right to bed with no book or cuddle time. She continued on and so he followed through and brought her upstairs.
Needless to say it was a miserable night. Not only was my daughter crying hysterically, but I was sobbing downstairs while she repeatedly called out for me. I tried to talk my husband into letting me go to her so I could get her to calm down but he wasn’t having it. At the time I was so frustrated and upset about the whole situation that I decided to step out of the house to run an errand. It was the best thing I could have done because it finally dawned on me. I have been a pushover parent! That little girl is smart and she knows I’ll cave. I need to stand my ground and stand united with my husband when she starts these antics of hers.
So I returned home and simply asked if it took her a while to calm down and fall asleep. What came out of his mouth next both shocked and thrilled me! Roughly 5 minutes after I left the house, the following conversation took place between Caroline (C) and my husband (H):
C: I need to go potty.
H: Ok go ahead.
C: I’m sorry daddy.
H: Why didn’t you just go before bed when I asked you to?
C: I don’t know. I go potty tomorrow.
That was all the reassurance I needed. I’m now trying hard to utilize my former teaching skills of setting clear expectations and following through with consequences. I’m not saying I’ll never cave again. Those little girls of mine sure know how to tug hard on my heart-strings. But perhaps I’ll do a better job of not giving in quite as often?