Sunday, January 11, 2009

How to win a fight with a toddler, I wish I knew

Picture if you will: 
ME: yelling and finger wagging, my face in its meanest mommy grimace. "Do NOT kick me!"
MAGGIE: laughing and kicking and refusing to put on her pants, "Mommy, you're fighting with me, ha ha ha."
ME: gritting my teeth and looking murderous, "If you do not cooperate right now, you are getting a time out."
MAGGIE: her face amused and placid, "I want a time out."
ME: to myself, "holy shit, what do I do now?"

Seriously, we just had our biggest fight to date and I was utterly defeated.  I mean, yes, I finally got the pants on her (after some abuse-bordering manhandling that made her laugh even harder), and yes, she finally took a nap.  But man, I really lost my cool and she, well, she just held her ground, cool as a cucumber.  I looked like such a blustering hothead compared to her. 
Not only does this not bode well for the future teenage years, but it just really bugs me to feel as if I am in opposition to my kids all the time. It's not at all what I had in mind.
My friend Vida, who has two of the most awesome kids you'll ever meet, once said her approach to discipline was to raise kids who wanted to do right by her, a we're-all-in-this-together approach. Right on, I thought at the time, back in those idealistic, pre-kid days.  And I still like it in theory. Only what do you do if you've accidentally raised kids who determinedly want to do WRONG by you, who stare down your requests and commands and laugh?  So far, the answer in this house is to become a yelling, angry, frustrated dork, someone so ineffectual and cloddy that two-year-olds look at you and laugh. I'm at a loss, really.

On a happier note, I've been super good about my resolutions, especially 3, 4, and 5.  I even brought the Mister a cupcake one day. The BUY NOTHING policy does not extend to food. Nice, huh?

A thing I like

Parenting help from the ladies at Symbio in San Francisco.  Noelle Cochran (above), infant sleep specialist extraordinaire, and Lele Diamond (below), marriage and family therapist extraordinaire, have come together to form Symbio, the biggest boon for frustrated parents since the invention of the cocktail hour.  They will help you with figuring out how to get your kids to sleep, bolstering your kid-ravaged marriage, disciplining your toddlers, finding the right preschool for your child, and just talking you down from the ledge when it feels like you are doing all the wrong stuff.  Really, they rock.  And their fees are reasonable.  


Julie Carling said...

I had just emailed Duncan about trying to find some kind of discipline class in the area. I'm going crazy. Sabrina is a very willful 19 month old, and I am not doing a good job at handling it at all! -- loved your post. -- Julie

Pasifik said...

I think you have a rough time with your kids...

Happy blogging,

Toddler Books

Samantha said...

I'm glad my timing was good. The women at Symbio have really saved us a mountain of headache. In fact, we are ready to hit them up for more advice.
Thank for reading!

Anonymous said...

I have a great discipline system once they hit 4-ish; getting ready to implement for Tyler although he's such a good boy generally (do you think it is a girl thing?) But at the twins' age, here is what worked with Bethany (who seems to have passed on the willful, defiant genes to Maggie--or, maybe it's just a girl thing?). I called it the "You get to choose the easy way or the hard way." The easy way is of course, exactly what you want them to do and should be presented in the best possible light. The hard way has to be some implementable consequence that means something to her. For nap time, ( which was often the point of contention) the easy way was, you take a nap, you wake up, we enjoy the rest of our day. The hard way was she tussled with me and I would force her to stay in her bed/room until she napped or 5 pm hit, whichever was first, which I did several times and she would be stuck in her room from like 1-ish until 5 when I would release her for dinner. The catch is to make it implementable. Curt was NOT good at this method. He would say, get out of the response. OK the easy way is you get out of the bath, the hard way is I beat you till you bleed, at which point, she would giggle and choose the hard way, further frustrating him. easy way/hard way was on her level of knowing the consequences of her actions and being able to choose her destiny. You just have to make sure to FOLLOW through on the consequence. I am still quite fearful of the teenage years, regardless of the multiple disciplinary systems I have implemented. The good thing about a system is that it takes the emotion out of it for me, because I'm just a few words away from the monster, screaming mommy persona who rears her head every so often.

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