Tag Archive for 'Parenting 101'

Reverse Psychology is just another name for Trickery, and I’m okay with that.

“Claire…” I say, looking at the clock. “Do you know what time it is?”

“No……..” she says slyly. She knows what time it is.

“Claire, it’s time for you to go mow the yard!”

“No, it’s not!” she screams, bursting into laughter.

“It’s time for you to go wash the car?”

“No, it’s not!” she screeches again.

“I know! It’s time for you to do all the laundry!”

“No!” she says again with a smile. “It’s time for me to go to bed!”

“It is?” I say with mock incredulity. “What? Are you sure?”

“Yes! It’s time for me to go to bed!”

“Well, that’s a great idea, Claire!”

It’s hard to resist a suggestion you came up with all on your own, wouldn’t you say? 😉

I’m not falling for her tricks

Claire is asking to do something crazy.  This isn’t entirely out of character. In fact, she asks to do crazy stuff all day long.  I actually let her do some (okay, most…) of the crazy stuff, but I have to use my judgment.

“Momma? Can I have Maple Syrup on my Goldfishies?”

“Uh, no.”

“Momma? Can I give Puppy a bath in the sink?”

“Uh, no.”

“Momma? Can I put real milk in this cup for Daisy?”

“Uh, no.”

These are just snippets of the conversations, but you get the idea. Normally, she follows up with an inquisition as to why she can’t do whatever she’s asked to do, and I give her good, solid answers. I usually follow it up with a good idea for something she can do instead.

But, we’ve reached a new stage in the game.

“Hey!” Claire screeches with that mischievous glint in her eye. “I have an idea!!

Oh, this is gonna be good…I wonder what it is this time?

“Why don’t I say, “No!” and you say “YES!!”

I give her points for creativity and the usage of reverse psychology, but I’m not falling for her tricks. 🙂

Adjustments for the Internet Age

The other day, Claire and I were in the office. I was typing on the computer, and Claire was typing on hers.

That’s when she told me that she was talking to Cesar Millan on her computer. She said, “He said, ‘Oh, Hi, Claire! Are you typing on your blog?’ and I told him, ‘yes, I am!’”

Then, she and Cesar carried on quite a conversation.

I think it’s important to note that her “computer” is just an old keyboard and mouse sitting in front of a wooden puzzle “monitor,” and she’s not connected to the Internet. She’s just pretending. For now.

Note to Future Self: Adjust the “never talk to strangers, even if they’re going to show you cute little puppies in the back of a white van” speech to include the dangers of online strangers talking about puppies.

No offense, Cesar.

…Thus proving she can; she just doesn’t want to. Sometimes.

So, a couple Saturdays ago, Claire and I were having a lazy morning.  Daddy had gone skiing, and we were lounging around the house.  Claire came out to where I was sitting at the kitchen table, and when I looked up at her, I was stunned.

She was wearing real clothes.
She had changed out of her pajamas, and put on real clothes.
And, they matched! But, that’s not the amazing part…

I was still in my robe.
I hadn’t even told her to get dressed.
She hadn’t asked me for help.
She’d just decided that it was time to get dressed and did so…like a normal human being.

When did this happen?

All of a sudden, she doesn’t need me to tell her to get dressed?  She’s skilled enough to put on articles of clothing by herself…and most of the time she insists on doing it herself, but I’ve almost always had to pester her get the ball rolling.

This is the same girl who will melt into a puddle on the floor when told nicely to put on her shoes and socks before we leave?

“I can’t, Momma!  You have to help me, Momma!  I can’t!

No, I don’t ask.  I tell.  But, I tell her politely.  And, she almost always drags her feet. I used to give her choices and ask and blah blah blah, but I’ve resorted to telling her what needs to happen.  I have found that me telling her they really go on her ears and then trying to put them on her ears will invoke her overwhelming urge to show me how they really go.

She always has to be right.  I have no idea where she gets this trait.  *ahem*

She grabs them out of my hands and starts putting them on her feet.  “See, Momma?  They go on my feetNot my ears!”

I try not to laugh too hard as she’s showing me the proper way to put on her socks.

…all by herself.

Silly me!  What what was I thinking!?



Well, now the secret is out.  She can and will get dressed by herself, all without prompting.  I guess some days just call for a little more drama than others.  🙂

I’d love to take credit for this, but she did all the work.

According to the notes in Claire’s babybook, on March 3, 2006, Claire discovered her thumb.  By March 8, 2006, she was waking up with it in her mouth.  By March 30th, her 4-month birthday, she had no interest in her pacifier.

(Keep in mind that I didn’t want Claire using a pacifier.  Oddly enough, on the second day home from the hospital, in the middle of a 3am crying session – hers and mine – I changed my mind, and the only one Claire would take was the one the hospital sent home with us.  And, she would only use that specific kind.  The day my hubby came home to find me boiling the only one we had because I’d accidentally thrown it away in the kitchen trash was the day I found them online and bought two more of them.  Dear Soothie™, I loved you, and you saved my life, but I don’t miss you.)

Click photo to enlarge.

Claire and her thumb

Claire and her thumb

And, so began the relationship of Claire and her thumb.  When I told our pediatrician she was sucking her thumb, and asked him if we should try to curb the behavior, he relieved my fears.  He said that the self-soothing mechanisms were great, and that by the time any permanent damage would be done, we could redirect her.  We could wean her off her thumb later.

I took a big sigh of relief and focused my energies elsewhere.  I looked at the bright side.  I never had to fumble around in the dark for a pacifier that had fallen out of the crib.  Never did I have to pick up a pacifier off of the dirty restaurant floor or have to turn inside out while trying to reach her pacifier from the front seat of the car.  Her thumb was always there.  It was there if she needed it.  It made my job easier, and it made her happy….two things at the top of my list.

When she turned two, I talked to the pediatrician about it again.  He said that two-yr olds really don’t have the mental capacity to stop a habit like this yet, so hold off on fighting that battle.  I was okay with that answer.  We started reminding her that she wouldn’t need to suck her thumb…eventually.  You know, when you’re a big girl! Slowly we started implementing little rules.  You can only suck your thumb in your car seat or your bed.

It seemed to work, for the most part, but we really didn’t pressure her.  Most of the time a simple reminder, “Oh my gosh!  Where are you supposed to suck your thumb?  Are you in your bed?  Are you in your car seat?” would suffice, but if she was really agitated or tired, she’d pop that left thumb in her mouth and use her right hand to caress her hair.  I’d remind myself that she was still my baby.  It was still too early to worry about it.  I knew it would all work out.

When she turned three, I knew we’d have our work cut out for us.  Now was the time to really focus on the project at hand.  I’d decided to talk to the pediatrician again to see what his ideas were.  At her well-visit, he had awesome ideas. One that really stood out was establishing the Fingernail Polish Reward.  If she could stop sucking her thumb, she could pick out (and wear!!) her very own fingernail polish.  Her eyes lit up when he said that, and I could tell that was the way to go.

He then got down on her level and looked her straight in the eye.  “Claire, do you know why you shouldn’t suck your thumb anymore?” he asked her.

“No…” she hesitated.

“You are a big girl now!  And, big girls don’t suck their thumbs!  And, here are the three reasons!  The first one?  There could be germs on your thumb, and if you put your thumb in your mouth, you could get sick.  The second reason?  You could hurt your thumb.  It could get dried and cracked and even bleed.”

Claire looked at both of us with wide eyes.

“That actually happened last year, Claire.  And the year before.  Do you remember that?” I asked her.  I reminded her of how hard it was to keep her thumb from cracking and bleeding in the winter.

“And the third reason,” Dr. B. said, still looking at Claire, “is that you could move your teeth.  You could ruin your pretty smile, and we don’t want that to happen.”

He repeated the three reasons and had her repeat them, too.  She got the answers right, and she was so proud of herself.

I told him that we were going to her first dentist appointment in a couple weeks, and I was sure Dr. J. would say the same things.  I told him we’d focus our attention fully onto that plan after that meeting.

Before we left the office, Dr. B. told Claire that she was a big girl, and that he knew she could do it.

He then reminded me that now was the time to start, but it might not happen for a while.  “Between three and four” was the target we were aiming for.  He gave me good pointers on how to remind her (put a piece of tape on it during the day, etc.), but that we should start slow.  It would happen.  She’d stop sucking her thumb.

A couple weeks later, we went to Claire’s very first Dentist Appointment. Just as predicted Dr. J. had the same three reasons for Claire to stop sucking her thumb that Dr. B. had!

That night, as we were snuggling on the couch, Claire was telling Daddy about her appointment at the dentist, and we started talking about the appointment we’d had with Dr. B., too, a couple weeks earlier.

“Dr. B. said I could suck my thumb for a little bit longer, Daddy,” Claire said matter-of-factly, hoping Daddy would believe her.

“No, he didn’t,” Daddy said.

“He didn’t?” she asked, knowing he hadn’t.  Big alligator tears started to well up in her eyes and fall down her cheeks.  “He didn’t say that?”

“No.  No, he didn’t.  He said you needed to stop it right now.  Do you know the three reasons why?”

As we held her, she just sobbed her little heart out.  When she was done crying, we all talked about the three reasons.

She wiped her face and looked at Daddy.  “Well, Daddy…if Dr. B. said I shouldn’t suck my thumb anymore, then I won’t!  I won’t!

I was amazed at her conviction but happy to hear it.

“Dr. B. said I don’t need to suck my thumb anymore!  I’m a big girl!”

And, that night, she didn’t.  She didn’t suck it when we kissed her goodnight, and I peeked in on her before I went to bed a few hours later.  Her thumb was nowhere near her mouth.  In the morning, it was bone dry.  Day Number One of the No Thumb-Sucking Project had been a success.

I was shocked and relieved.

In a former life, I was trained as a counselor.  I’m very aware of the fact that it typically takes 21 days (or repetitions) to end a habit or change a behavior, and that’s only after you can admit that there’s something that needs to change.  I knew that every day we were mostly successful with Claire would be a day closer to complete success.

Every time she’d go to bed, I’d remind Claire about the three reasons for not sucking her thumb, or I’d have her tell me what they were.  Then, I’d peek in on her.  (Sucking her thumb outside of her bed was non-existent.)  There have been a couple naptimes during days that were particularly exhausting that I’d see that pesky thumb, but I’d tiptoe in, remove it from her mouth, and she’d never put it back.  At night, she has yet to have a slip.

I couldn’t believe it.
She’d gone cold-turkey.  Or, would that be cold-thumb?

By my calculations, she’d gone 23 days without sucking her thumb, so, on Saturday, it was time for the reward.

She had requested a special Cinderella Nail Polish and had been talking about it ever since Project No Thumb-Sucking began.  When Claire wasn’t looking, I may or may not have put Cinderella stickers on a brand-new bottle of Sally Hansen™ Diamonds Nail Polish.  Shhh, it will be our little secret, okay?

Click photos to enlarge.

Cinderella Fingernail Polish

Cinderella Fingernail Polish

Momma did the honors while Daddy acted as the paparazzi, capturing the big moment.

Momma did the honors while Daddy acted as the paparazzi, capturing the big moment.

The Newest Proud Member of the No Thumb-Sucking Club

The Newest Proud Member of the No Thumb-Sucking Club

I am SO proud to announce that Claire is officially no longer a thumb-sucker!  I’ll still remind her of the three reasons to not suck her thumb and still peek in on her, just to be sure we stay on the right track, but it feels so good to know that we’ve made it to the other side.

My favorite part about all this is seeing how excited she gets when we talk about it.

“I don’t have to suck my thumb anymore!” she’ll say.  And, she says it like she’s finally free.

So, what’s in it for me?

Yesterday, I referenced “incentives” that we give Claire as a reward for good behavior. Today, I thought I’d share what some of those are. There was a time when Fruit Snacks held all the power in the world over her, and we’ve moved on from those days…which is fine, because I feel uncomfortable using too many food-based rewards. (That’s another blog post in and of itself…)

And, with Santa’s visit just around the corner, “Being good for goodness’ sake” should be good enough…but it rarely is.

The incentives I give to Claire are easy to understand, easy to accomplish and something that she really wants. And, isn’t that what goals are all about?

When it comes to toddlers and preschoolers, each situation is a little different, so I try to fit the incentive with what we’re going to be doing.

For example, when we go to the grocery store, if she’s good, she gets to ride the pony after we check out. The pony costs a PENNY. For real. Cost to me? Minimal. A PENNY! It’s on the way out of the store, so I don’t have to go out of my way. The result? Claire is really good at the store.

Target, on the other hand, doesn’t have an awesome pony to ride for a penny. Well, Target does have a Princess Aisle. (No, it’s not named that, but you’ll know what I mean when you see it.) If Claire is good, we get to walk through the Princess Aisle and look. Cost to me? Zero. We’re not buying anything in the Princess Aisle. We’re looking at the wonderful Princess Paraphernalia. And, I usually go through the store so that the Princess Aisle is at the end, so it’s not out of my way. The result? Claire is really good at the store.

What about a specialty store? No ponies. No princess aisles. Well, this is where things get a little trickier, but with a little forethought and planning, an awesome incentive can be put into play. (In yesterday’s example, I let Claire hold the bag from the store. The actual bag. I took the items out. Sometimes, she begs to hold receipts or my shopping list. Perfect! You’d be surprised at what is important and exciting to a preschooler!) If I can’t think of anything specific that she can do at the store, I let her bring one of her favorite toys with us in the car, usually one she doesn’t normally get to bring. The toy stays in the car while we shop, and if she’s good in the store, she gets to hold the toy when we get back out to the car. You’d be surprised at how well this works if you really play up how special all of this is.

Another item in my Incentive Arsenal is the drinking fountain. Claire is mesmerized by drinking fountains and will do pretty much anything to get to drink out of one. I use this to my advantage. She used to throw a fit when we had to leave the gymnasium after the hour-long playtime was over. Now, the threat of not getting to drink from the drinking fountain is so much worse than putting on her socks and shoes, that she usually does so without complaint. (Of course, getting her away from the drinking fountain is now a challenge, so I usually have a two-tiered incentive system in place that day.)

The key to getting these incentives to work is to be firm in not rewarding the wrong behavior. If an incentive is in place, and if after one warning she still shows blatant disregard for it, she doesn’t get the reward. Period. No pony rides if you’re naughty. There will be no trips through the Princess Aisle if you’re naughty. The special toy we brought with us goes in the trunk. Drinking fountains can only be used by little girls who act the way they’re supposed to. Period.

Another caveat? Any whining or crying for something is the perfect way to not get it. We ask politely for things with the understanding that we may or may not get what we want. Yes, the whining or crying escalates in that very moment if the answer is not to her liking, but you know what? The more times she doesn’t get what she wants by crying, the quicker she realizes that crying for things won’t work, and the less it happens.

Along with this is another incentive I haven’t mentioned that pretty much works in any store. You get to stay in the store and shop unless you throw a fit. If you throw a fit, we’re leaving. As the person who is needing whatever items we’re there for, it’s super-annoying to me to have to do that, but the alternative is worse.

And, like I said, it didn’t take her long to figure out we mean business. Actions have consequences. She has a choice on how to behave, and I have no qualms being the disciplinarian, but I also have no problems rewarding good behavior.

So, I’m happy to report that these incentives work for us. This coupled with the positive outlook make our outings enjoyable. Things are constantly changing around us, so I’m always on the lookout for new incentives to work into our routine, and I usually follow her lead on things she really enjoys doing and seeing.

And, the best part about all this? She gets what she wants, and I get what I want. It doesn’t get much better than that. 🙂

Today is Day 13 of 30 in the NaBloPoMo Challenge! Check it out and/or join in the fun!

Back on track

The last couple weeks have been stressful for Claire and me.  Something shifted, and my sweet well-behaved little girl had started acting up in stores.  All of a sudden, she would try to run around like crazy and cause general mayhem.  This was just not like her!  Is this a new stage?  This is not good!

It got to where I dreaded going to the various stores.  I had my incentives in place for her, but it seemed to be a crapshoot.  She’d either be really good or really horrible, and either way, I was exhausted…because I’d be so concerned about when she was going to throw the next fit, or I’d be in the middle of dealing with one.

This was so not like her.  This was not like me, and I didn’t like it one bit.

I’m working on our Holiday Letters, and this year, I’m doing something differently.  I wanted to go to a local scrapbooking store to get some supplies.  I’m not a scrapbooker, but this store had exactly what I needed.  The thought of taking This Current Claire into this store was daunting.  Have you ever been in a scrapbooking store?  It’s full of tiny, wonderful pieces, and it’s all horribly distracting…and that’s for the adults!  Just imagine what it’s like for a preschooler!  😉

But, I didn’t want to wait until Claire’s Young Preschooler Class to go without her, so I decided to bite the bullet and tackle the situation.

I was telling a friend on the phone about my plan for the day, when it hit me.  Of course Claire was going to be naughty if that’s what I was expecting.  Of course there would be issues if I was sure there were going to be issues!

What happened to the positive person I used to be?  Where was my positive energy?  And, more importantly, why did it take me almost two weeks to realize what had happened to me??

I made a change right there.  I forced a total reboot of my brain.  I had an absolute mental and emotional readjustment.  I took a deep breath and exhaled, both physically and mentally.

We’d slipped.  Claire was a really good baby.  She was a really good toddler.  I’d forgotten that being positive takes proactivity.  Because she was so good, being positive was so easy.  All of a sudden, she reaches a challenging stage (i.e. Almost Three) and I feed off of that negative energy and then dish some up for her.  No wonder we were going a little batty!

(One could argue that she was a good baby and a good toddler because I was so positive…which may be true.  Either way, it was a cycle that had gotten a little off kilter, so I had to get things back on track!)

So, I did it.  I changed my way of thinking.  I dusted off my Zen Master Notes and got back on track.  I know it probably sounds silly to someone who has never been in-tune with energy types and levels.  But, it’s true for me.  It’s worked for me.  It worked for us.

That afternoon, I told myself, both in my head and out loud, that we were going to have a great time at the store.  I put the incentives in place (she’d get to hold the bag in the car if she was good in the store), and off we went.  Note to self:  I need to write about the different incentives we have in place.  Stay tuned for a post on that!

It was like we were two different people.  We were back to our old selves.  The store experience was enjoyable.  She was inquisitive and curious and really well-behaved.  I let her touch the things she could touch, and reminded her to just look with her eyes at the things she shouldn’t touch.  And, she listened.  She only needed to be reminded a couple of times about her incentives.

And, you know what?  She’s been good ever since.  We still have a challenge every now and then, but my well-behaved little girl is back!

She’s the same person.  I’m the same person.  But, the energy has changed.  Things are back on the positive track, and now I know to be vigilant about letting things slip.  I have to remember that even when things are going well, I need to do a mental check.

These mental and emotional exercises are just as important as real exercise.  For me, I equate them to the stretching I’m supposed to do for my back and hips.  The stretching makes me feel so good that I start to think I no longer need to do it…and that’s just not the case.  I stop doing the stretches, and after a while, the pain comes back, and I have to start over again.  I have to remind myself to keep on keepin’ on.

I have to stick with what works, even if it’s working so well I forget that it’s working at all.

Okay, so, how did I even know to check my energy levels?  Well, I used to be a worrier.  I used to use negative energy to worry about anything and everything.  One day, years and years ago, I realized that I had to stop the cycle I was in or I’d never be happy.

Out of the blue, years ago, a friend sent me this book.  The timing was uncanny, and it was a real eye-opener.  It resonated with me and my need to make a change in my outlook.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting by Lynn Grabhorn

Yes, there are sticky notes tabbing the pages.  I’ve used this book in presentations when I managed a sales team.

So, for years now, I’ve not worried.  Don’t get me wrong:  I’m not apathetic, and there is a difference.  I still care and plan and organize and hope for the best, but the negative edge is gone.  I don’t focus on what I don’t want.  I focus on what I do want.  It was shocking to me to realize that I was starting to slip back into my old ways.  I was looking for negative things and then wondering why on earth I was finding them.  Duh!

But, not all is lost, and it just takes a moment to get back on track.  And we are.  Things are calm and enjoyable and exciting again, and all in a good way.  Now, I’m looking for all of the positive things that can happen when we’re out and about, and I’m finding them everywhere.

Funny how that works…  😉

Today is Day 12 of 30 in the NaBloPoMo Challenge! Check it out and/or join in the fun! Positive thoughts AND a post for Day 12? Affirmative!

More precious than jewels

Yesterday, Claire had her Young Preschoolers Class, and just like all the other times, I barely got a “Bye, Momma!” out of her when I dropped her off and signed her in. I decided to take all of this as a good sign that she’s adjusting well to the independent life I want her to lead. This is, after all, the reason we put her in these classes.  The classes meet on Mondays for just an hour-and-a-half, but they are a great way to start nurturing her independent spirit.

Still, I won’t lie; it stung a little.

No kiss.
No hug.
Barely a wave.

I tried to not let it bother me, and I left quickly…partially for her benefit and partially for mine.

I went to an appointment and ran some errands before making it back to the parking lot a few minutes early.

When it was time to pick her up, she was thrilled to see me. My heart swelled with joy, and I realized that she still loves me. She still needs me.  Of course, I already knew this.  Duh.  Right?

Anyway…imagine my surprise when she showed me a gift she’d made for me in class. Something just for me!

Click photo to enlarge.

A new bracelet for Momma

A new bracelet for Momma

The teacher had the kids make bracelets with beads and pipe cleaners. What a great idea!  They could make one for whomever they chose: someone else or themselves.  She chose to make one for me!  And she put the beads on all by herself!  My new piece of jewelry is gorgeous, and I love it. (And, Claire took this picture of me and my new bracelet when we got home!   She did a great job!!)

She babbled all the way home about her adventures in the class and how she’d picked all of the colors “especially for YOU, Momma.” My heart melted and ran all over the front seat of my car when she said that. Why had I even let those other thoughts creep into my mind?

So, I may not get a kiss or a hug every time I leave her for the class, but I get the peace of mind knowing that she’s growing up into a well-rounded, socially-strong individual, who still loves her Momma.

And, sometimes, I get really cool jewelry out of the deal, too.


Today is Day 4 of 30 in the NaBloPoMo Challenge! Check it out and/or join in the fun! And, with that…my outfit AND the post for Day 4 is complete!

Almost Three!

It’s October 30th…and do you know what that means??  Claire turns THREE IN ONE MONTH!!

Click to enlarge:  35-months old, and she’s already a blogger!

Click to enlarge: 35-months old, and she’s already a blogger!

Claire said, “Momma!  Take a picture of me typing my blog!”  I asked her what she was writing about, and she said, “You!”  And then she started laughing maniacally.  If that doesn’t sum up what it’s like to be Almost Three, I don’t know what does!  😉

It seems like just a few months ago I was writing about her turning Almost Two.  It really is amazing how fast the time flies!

You know what?  Two hasn’t really been that terrible.  Yes, we’ve had our challenges, but we’ve had more fun than not, more laughter than tears, and more crazy runnings-around than temper tantrums.

In fact, the hardest thing about dealing with Two is not laughing when you’re supposed to have a dead-serious straight face.  Who knew disciplining a child would be so comical!?

And laughing hysterically at someone in distress is not only rude, but doesn’t quite bring the proper solemnity to the situation.


She teaches me something new every day, and I love that.

So Three is almost here…and I think I’ve seen her peeking her ornery little head out from behind a corner every now and then.

And from these tiny glimpses of Three, I can tell I have my work cut out for me.  I’m going to be doing a lot of deep breathing, giving myself good wrinkles, and counting.  Or maybe I’ll do the alphabet.  You know?  I’ve always wanted to be able to rattle off the alphabet backwards…maybe I’ll practice that.  I should be really good at it by the time Four gets here.

We have one month left before we officially enter Year Three.  I have a feeling that this year will be a delicate balance of continuing to encourage the independence she already has and managing the stubbornness that is so deeply ingrained.  In fact, the line between those two is so blurry that I sometimes forget which is which.

And, yes…yes…if we’re being completely honest, she totally takes after me.  I’m very independent and stubborn.  (Not to mention bossy and a know-it-all…)  But, I also enjoy being creative and I love solving problems, so hopefully our strengths and weaknesses can play off of each other.

I have a feeling that Year Three will be just as much fun as Year Two.