Friday, December 18, 2009

Fun or Discipline?

I'll start with this doesn't happen often. I am truly blessed the Miss M, while being a strong willed child, is at the same time mostly compliant with few tantrums. Most times if they do happen, it's because of an inconsistency between how her mother and I handle things (or the nanny) or simply because Miss M is tired. She is in that "in between" phase where she most days refuses to nap but then ends up exhausted by 5:30 or 6:00 PM. Last night was one of those nights. It was also my last night with her before she goes to her mother's for a week for the Christmas holiday.

I was feeling like I'm sure most of us do who share custody. I value every moment and want to make the best of the time I have with her. We play games, hug on the couch while we watch her favorite shows, and read books. Interactive things that make for good "Daddy and Me" time. Last night Miss M told her nanny that whe wanted to wait until Daddy got home from work so that we could eat dinner together...sweet right??!!! So I was excited to spend the evening. We made dinner which she didn't like so much. She was "all done" quickly and then began asking for donuts. Hmmm...

Now, I'm not a hard liner when it comes to having treats (her mother is). As long as she's eaten healthy during the day, a treat after dinner seems appropriate to me. There were some donut holes left that the nanny had gotten her and she knew it. Problem is, the remaining ones didn't have sprinkles on them. Miss M LOVES sprinkles. When she saw the selection, she, in her tired state, immediately began crying and jumping up and down, demanding sprinkles. She then begain demanding chocolate milk. No please, not asking nicely, but "I want!!!" in that 3 year old demanding tone, complete with teary eyes (poor baby, I knew she was just tired). I calmly explained that she wasn't asking politely (she does know how) and to please use her manners. With that, off came the Princess clip on earrings she was wearing. She flung them across the floor, ran to the couch, threw herself on it, and began to cry. Quite the little drama queen, right? That's her mother's side...

At 7:00 PM with Miss M in her jammies, it being below freezing outside, and Daddy desparately wanting quality time with her before she left this morning, I had a dilemma. Do I 1) get her dressed and walk half a block (literally 100 yards) with her to Dunkin Donuts while she drank her chocolate milk, or 2) calmly insist that she pick up the earrings she threw, apologize for the tantrum, and ask nicely for what she wants, all the while knowing that this could take a LONG time? Miss M can be quite stubborn when she's in this state.

Option 1 was SO much more attractive and the path of least resistance. I gave it serious thought. Thing is, I knew that if I did it, I'd be setting a bad precedent for later. Daddy, who's OBVIOUSLY wrapped around her little finger (and she knows it) would be set up for more trouble later. Crap! So much for fun, right?

It took a good 30 minutes to get her to pick up those earrings. The first one came at about 10 minutes. The second was much tougher. Everyone's discipline style is different. Mine is to remain calm, start with "I love you" and explain that her behavior is unacceptable and turn off TV and allow no other activities until she does what's needed. Usually that results in an on the floor crying fit to which I respond again, "I love you and I'll be right here on the couch. As soon as you do "X" we can have some fun." She is stubborn, though. It usually takes a while.

We got through it and had a nice rest of the night and fun morning. I'll see Miss a couple times for lunch before Christmas. Ex has been gracious about that (I know it pains her but I'm appreciative). In the meantime, maybe I'll go buy some sprinkles to keep around the house.

6 comments:

Daddy said...

Man reading your post has really gotten me to appreciate my wife and all the hard work she does. I don't know how you do it. You are one tough emotional sob. I have to hand it to you. Nice job. Stay strong and have the best Christmas you can have

Mass Hole Mommy said...

Ahhh, she is testing you and it sounds like you did the right thing! I never really had an issue with my oldest son, who is 5 now, but my 2 year old is absolutely asserting his independence and will sit on the floor for an hour next to something he threw that I asked him to pick up. Granted, there is a HUGE difference between 2 and 3, but I figure if he's already like this, it will only get worse. Sounds like you are a great daddy!!

Travis said...

You did do the right thing, at the cost of emotional outburst and frustration now, for much calmer days ahead. and she will know where you stand and what to expect.

Sometimes we want our time so badly that we want to make all the "normal" things in life absent due to time restraints. This will create more problems over time. We have to remember, that our first goals should be having them become well adjusted and can express their love and frustrations in a healthy manner. While loving them through it all.

Awesome.

Senorita said...

The thing that I like about you as a father that while she is your Princess, you don't spoil her in a way that is destructive to her later. You're not teaching her to get what she wants by allowing to throw her tantrums. I am glad that you are raising her this way instead of letting her do what she wants all the time, which will hurt her down the road when she thinks she can get her way all the time. Good job, and I hope that you enjoy the holidays !

Debbie said...

you go dad!!!! I think you did the right thing!!!! Its not easy..and it takes FOREVER it seems..but, as they get older you will be so glad you did not teach her that demanding works!!however, Its so hard when you know why they are misbehaving:(!

Nicki said...

Well done! Eventually, with your consistent approach, she will outgrow these tantrums. Rachel did. I walked her to her room, set her on the bed and explained it was okay to get upset, it was not okay to act like that, and once she was ready to talk she could come out. (She hadn't thrown anything but herself on the floor...) And now, at age 15, we have an amazing relationship. SInce you two seem to have a great bond already, I know it will only get stronger and mature with age. Some day...no more Barbie dolls...you'll be hanging out at a coffee house. (missing the good old days...)

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