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September 13, 2012

How Far Do You Stand Your Ground???

It seems to happen a lot lately…one of the girls (usually Baby A) will ask for something.  I’ll tell her no, and she begins to cry.

Everything in my parenting arsenal tells me not to respond to crying.  What Mommy said is what goes, end of story.

You must hold Mommy’s hand when we’re walking in the neighborhood, no matter how nicely you ask to walk by yourself…and/or no matter how loudly you scream that you want to walk by yourself.  That is not an option.  End of story.


I feel so silly holding the line when the thing in question is so insignificant.

Just looking back over the last couple of days, we had a near come-apart when A asked for some water.  I was in the middle of fixing lunch, and I told her that she would have milk with lunch in just a few minutes.  You would have thought I’d told her that we’d moved to the desert and she’d never get anything to drink, ever again.

In light of her outrage, I felt silly, “denying” her water.  I finally said, “A, if you want water, you must ask nicely.  She settled enough to ask properly, “Mommy, may I have some water, please?  I gave her the tiniest sip, and everyone was happy-ish.

Yesterday she asked to play with her lacing cards.  I gingerly told her no, that that is an “afternoon” toy (more on how I’m trying to come up with some semblance of a new schedule since we’re NOT NAPPING, later).  She fell apart!  I told her again that she could play with her lacing cards in the afternoon, but then I spent some very focused energy getting her focused on another activity.

Holding hands in a public place is a rule, and I have zero problems enforcing that…but – to my knowledge – there are no Biblical references to playing with lacing cards before lunchtime.

In such situations I’ve tried to explain why lacing cards are an afternoon activity, or why we can’t play with Play-Dough right now.  I don’t want to come across as only “because I said so!” on every issue…there are enough of those issues that actually matter…but I sometimes end up reversing my original decree.   

I might say that we can play with Play-Dough IF we clean up our other toys…or we can play with lacing cards now, but that means we won’t have them to play with this afternoon.

Is that the right way to handle it?  I don’t want the girls to get used to the idea that they can bargain with me.

Do you stand your ground on principle, no matter how small the issue?


Miss Megan said...

I'm having the same issues you are, and I too find myself caving on the small stuff...I just don't it like "If you give a mouse a cookie"???? Or does it not really matter? If you figure it out, let me know!!! =)

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

This is a tough one and to be honest, I have let a lot of stuff go. I try to ask myself, "Does it really matter?" and usually the answer for me is no because usually the freak-outs are for little things.

My girls hate holding my hand when we walk in our neighborhood. They know that it is a must when we cross a street but if they are just on the sidewalk with me, it isn't worth the fight. If I couldn't trust them to listen to me or stay near then that would be a different story and they know there is a consequence if the don't do those things.

With the water, I fill up water bottles for my girls every morning and then I don't have to deal with it again. It is all they drink and they have to be responsible for keeping track of it. For my six year old, there is always a small pitcher of water on the counter and she is responsible for helping herself.

Your girls, like mine, are trying to figure out where you end and they begin. They all need to learn how to make decisions and learn the consequences of those decisions. If the consequences are too dangerous, stand your ground. If not, let it go. It'll feel okay, I promise!

Good luck!

Amanda said...

Ah yes.. they are testing boundaries. If your girls are like mine, they get really into pushing boundaries for a while and once I clue in that is what they are doing, I get more strict. Then they back off. Kids want to know what their boundaries are. The more you give, the more then'll push until they feel secure in what is their limits.

My philosophy is that it is easier to be strict with the things that DON'T matter so that when it DOES matter they aren't used to pushing and they just take it at first go.

I like to explain things to my kids as much as possible, but sometimes things are just "because."
A couple of key phrases I use are: "That is the rule."
"That is NOT a choice."
"That is NOT acceptable."
"Right now we are doing x."

On the other hand... I DO want to teach my kids to be great thinkers and negotiators. So I try to teach them to say, "Mom, when you are no longer busy, can you X?" Or "Since you are making my lunch, can I get my own water?" Ect.

Hope that helps!!!

Suzie said...

I say yes as often as possible. We get told no so often in life that if it is plausible for me to say yes then I will.

I don't say yes if it is about safety or about chocolate 10 minutes before dinner but if it is something that I can do for them that will make them happy and isn't dangerous or irresponsible then my answer is yes.

Want to bake a cake? Sure. Want to splash in puddles in the rain? Sure. Want to draw? Sure. Why not?

By saying yes as often as I can I am stopping half the battles and making it easier and less stressful to say no when I need to.


Mandy said...

I am so torn over this. SO TORN!
I really try to be flexible and say yes. They are people with opinions too, right? I'm also trying to foster independence while maintaining our rhythm. Above all, I demand respect and expect a certain level obedience. You can ask me why you can't have something, but don't throw a fit.

Once the fit has begun, I shut down. I don't do power struggles. Period.

As for that water situation, I think I would have asked if she preferred water over milk with lunch. A bit of a compromise, but I didn't outright say no. I find I escape a lot of struggles that way. I guess that means I give on the small stuff, but if it means that everyone is happy and my "flow" is unaffected, I'm game!

I've also really started to impart the idea of privileges. Certain things are privileges, and it keeps them thinking ahead. If you misbehave now and throw this fit, you won't have the privilege of x later.

Go crazy, say yes. But hold fast to your routine!

Gina @ MoneywiseMoms said...

I still go through this with my twins (now age 6) and it's still the same argument about safety vs. convenience or what I want. They still get frustrated! I think they know that holding hands is a safety issue, so there's no arguing, but now that they're older it's more about being patient or me not just giving in and making them do it themselves.

Hang in there! Visiting you from Multiples & More.

Marcia (123 blog) said...

i like Suzie's point of view - what a different way to think :)

I tried to answer your question in today's blog - let me know if I managed to do so adequately!!!

Anonymous said...

I found this through M&M friday finds and I am so glad I did! My husband and I are going through exactly this with our girls right now (2 1/2) and we do not always agree! Last night at midnight he was in their room having a stand off with one because she wanted a cup of water and he had told her no. It ended up waking up every other person in the house (her twin, me, and her baby brother) and I remember asking him if it was worth it. He says if he gives in once it teaches them to walk all over him, but all 5 of us were up for over an hour because he didn't to spend 2 minute letting her drink a cup of water after bedtime...

I totally agree with Suzie. "I say yes as often as possible. We get told no so often in life that if it is plausible for me to say yes then I will." My thoughts EXACTLY!