Unsolicited Parenting Advice: How to Turn Your Suddenly Rude Tod-lar Back Into the Polite Little Boy He Once Was

Parenting

(This post comes from the archives, circa 2007, from a mommy blog I abandoned long ago in a far, far away internet galaxy.)

It is likely that one day you will wake up to find that your very polite Tod-lar has been replaced with a demanding and rude little boy.  Don’t be alarmed.  If your Tod-lar attends the incubator-of-unknown-viruses-and-unseemly-behavior, otherwise known as “preschool,” then, sadly, this is to be expected.

Now, let me forewarn you that while rude Tod-lar behavior can strike at any moment, this clever creature will usually opt to do it when your reflexes are low and your synapses are not fully firing: before your morning coffee.  That is when you are likely to hear, “I want milk.  Get me my milk!”   When this occurs remain calm.  Obviously, he has momentarily confused you with one of his bitches.

When you do not respond to his demand because you are not his bitch and his fetch-me-a-chicken-pot-pie” tone is completely unacceptable, he will repeat his demand more loudly.

“I want milk!  GET me my MILK!”

At this point, though you may want to either a) scream at him for acting like a total ass, or b) pour Drano in your ears so you never have to hear this horrible tone bellowing from the lips of your sweet son again, it is best to remain calm and step away from the Drano.  To help you remain calm, remind yourself not to take his rudeness personally.  Remember that he is trying  a new behavior on for size, and your job is simply to show him it does not fit, nor will it ever fit.  EVER.  To help you step away from the Drano, be sure to store it in a hard-to-reach area before the Tod-lar even begins exhibiting this most annoying rudeness.

Next, get down to the Tod-lar’s level but, rather than facing him, try to situate yourself so that you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with him.  This promotes, according to sociological research, a far less combative situation than the face-to-face position.

Then, check to ensure you are emotionally distanced from the situation.  Remember, you are not engaging him in a power struggle.  Rather, you are simply following-through on a logical consequence.  If he wants milk, then he needs to ask politely.  It doesn’t matter if he’s asking the waiter at your local family-friendly restaurant, his teacher, or you.  Thus, it is as if you are merely the milk messenger, and it is the higher powers of politeness who have determined the proper way to request it.  So if Tod-lar is engaging in any sort of power struggle, it is with those higher powers, not you.

Once you’ve gained your necessary emotional distance, you are prepared to speak to the Tod-lar.  In a genuinely calm and quiet tone, ask him, “Bud, is that how we ask for milk?”

If he responds with a sheepish, “No,” then say, “Well, show me how do we ask for milk.”

If his next words are, “I don’t know,” (even though you know he does) or, “I don’twant to!” or “I can’t,” then in the same calm and quiet tone say, “I can’t give you your milk until you ask for it properly.”  Again, your attitude here should be “I’d really like to give you your milk, but some higher power says I can’t until you’ve asked nicely.”  Then resume making your morning coffee.

Given that the Tod-lar is fairly stubborn and willful, he will most likely begin to whine and cry — loudly.  Do not reach for the Drano.  Instead, resume your shoulder-to-shoulder position with him and ask, “Are you upset because you want your milk?”  When he replies with a sheepish, “Yes,” say, “I will gladly give it to you when you ask politely.  If you don’t ask politely, I can’t give it to you.  Do you want to try again?”

If he still refuses and, instead, resumes whining and crying, say, “If you need to whine and cry about it, then please go to your room, where you can sit with Cow and calm yourself down.”

At this point, he may miraculously calm himself down and ask for the milk properly.  Be sure to give it to him with a big smile, and say cheerfully, “Here you are!”  But don’t thank him for doing what he was supposed to do in the first place.  (And, again, don’t thank him when later that day he says, “Mama, I not calling you ‘poopy-pants.'”  Just say, “I should hope not!”)

Keep in mind that the Tod-lar will attempt this same rude behavior over and over again throughout the day, and may even continue it into the following day.  This means there will most likely be instances when the Tod-lar does go without milk and may need to calm himself down on Cow.  Don’t worry.  In either case, he will not die, though he will act as if he might.

With the same consistent response as described above, however, this rude behavior should fully stop by the end of the second day.

Good luck.

The Perils of Attachment Parenting – The Atlantic

Parenting

Perhaps what’s most concerning to me about attachment parenting, though, is the thread that runs through each of these practices—sharing beds, feeding on demand, keeping the baby close at all times. It is a philosophy of putting children’s needs above parents’, all the time. Parents are at their best when they’ve taken care of themselves—when they’ve had a decent night’s sleep, when they’ve had a chance to connect with their partner, and when they’ve had the opportunity to move around baby-free.

Attachment parenting, as described by Dr. Sears, is NOT research based.  It’s a philosophy, and it does not even correlate with optimal parenting practice research, which prefers an authoritative style (Baumrind, 1966). Authoritative parenting involves respecting, nurturing, and responding to your child’s emotional needs while setting appropriate limits. It is these limits that help children to feel safe and secure. When we don’t set limits, the children feel a leadership void and may act to fill it. This is human nature. Some parents may think seeing their children fill this leadership signals healthy self-esteem. It doesn’t. It means just the opposite.

Our job as parents is prepare our children to be societal citizens.  In order for society to function well (and, yes, there is much to show that it doesn’t) limits, such as laws, are necessary. If we are constantly accommodating our children’s every whim, what do they learn?  They learn they are the center of the universe, and it’s others people’s responsibility to ensure their every need is met.

Have you ever worked with someone like that? Ugh. It’s dreadful.

I want to be able to be hit by a bus and have my children feel that they can keep on and create good lives for themselves (I don’t really want to be hit by a bus, but you get my drift). If I act in way that makes them dependent upon me, I’m actually making their “self” about ME, not them.  Their job is to self-differentiate.  My job is foster that process.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t claim to be a perfect parent. Far from it. I absolutely expect my children (I would say “kids,” but they’re always reminding me that they’re not baby goats) to be angry at me for something or other when they’re adults. They’ll be on the couch talking to their therapist just as I was. But at least they’ll know to call that therapist and take responsibility for working things out for themselves.

via The Perils of Attachment Parenting – The Atlantic.

Are you raising nice kids? A Harvard psychologist gives 5 ways to raise them to be kind – The Washington Post

Parenting

Heart

“About 80 percent of the youth in the study said their parents were more concerned with their achievement or happiness than whether they cared for others. The interviewees were also three times more likely to agree that “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.”

Weissbourd and his cohorts have come up with recommendations about how to raise children to become caring, respectful and responsible adults. Why is this important? Because if we want our children to be moral people, we have to, well, raise them that way.

“Children are not born simply good or bad and we should never give up on them. They need adults who will help them become caring, respectful, and responsible for their communities at every stage of their childhood,” the researchers write.””

Read the five strategies here:  Are you raising nice kids? A Harvard psychologist gives 5 ways to raise them to be kind – The Washington Post.

Anxious Parents Can Learn How To Reduce Anxiety In Their Kids : Shots – Health News : NPR

Mental Health, Parenting

“Like other mental and physical health problems, anxiety can be inherited. And some children are more vulnerable because of the way their anxious parents “parent.”

Children whose parents struggle with anxiety are 2- to 7-times more likely to develop an anxiety disorder themselves, according to Golda Ginsburg, a psychologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who studies childhood anxiety.

That’s partly a result of how parents view the world. If they see it as a scary place, their children often do as well. Parents are a child’s role model for many behaviors, including anxiety, says Ginsburg. “So if a parent is showing anxiety, jumping up on a table when they see a mouse versus reacting calmly, we know children are more likely to develop fears similar to what their parents are showing.””

via Anxious Parents Can Learn How To Reduce Anxiety In Their Kids : Shots – Health News : NPR.