Several years ago, I was having a discussion with our aunt about discipline in childrearing, and pointed out that raising children isn’t all about obedience. I claimed that it was about raising a human being who can function well in the world and improve his or her community.
Now that we’re some major oppositional behaviour from K, I’m starting to think that a little obedience might be nice. I’m tired of everything being a struggle, of having to repeat myself many times, of giving consequences that will result in more opposition.
Example: K and I have discussed the danger inherent in pouring water onto the bathroom floor. She has even experienced the consequences of the slippery floor herself. And yet, she began pouring water from her bath onto the floor, using the tub toys.
I dealt a consequence: No tub toys for the next week of baths.
K acted to demonstrate her defiance by spitting water onto the floor from her bath. I informed her that clearly she can’t handle the responsibility of a bath right now, so she’ll take showers for a little while and then she can try baths again in a week.
When the time for the first shower comes, K cries, screams, and refuses to get in. At first, I patiently offer her sunglasses so that she won’t get water and soap in her eyes. She refuses and continues screaming. I’m at a loss. I ask nicely. I remind her that showers are quick and she’ll soon be done. I ask her to make eye contact with me and explain why she won’t shower. “Well…” she starts (and it sounds like “way-ull”) “… um, I don’t want to shower because, well… um…”
I point out to her that if she wastes her time arguing, she’ll still have to take a shower later and it will encroach on her time to play with daddy. I say, “I need to go make dinner. You let me know when you’re ready to shower. Take as long as you want, but remember that you may only play with daddy when you have showered.” I leave the room. She follows me, screeching like a banshee and then saying, “I’m trying to scare you!” I’m torn between her need to be taken seriously and my need to say, “keep trying.”
Eventually Mr. December comes home. He needs to shower and head out to a volunteer meeting. K finally agrees to hop into the shower with him, as long as she doesn’t have to wash her hair. “I’m afraid of getting water in my eyes,” she moaned pitifully. He turned to me and asked, “Do we have some goggles?” As if I hadn’t offered her goggles in the first five minutes of this whole debacle.
And so it goes. I see so many things wrong with this situation, but I’m really not sure how to fix it. I’m turning to you, my intrepid readers. What would you do? What problems to you see in this situation? Do you have a suggestion?
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