So anyone that is currently or has raised a preschooler knows the difficulties that can arise when what you think is right is in direct opposition with what they think is right. Ethan and I struggle with this. More so than Ethan and his dad. That man has the patience of a saint!
And so, when tasked with the difficult job of creating a well-rounded, mindful, considerate, yet independent human being, one must at times take measures that are painful for both parent and child.
It is HARD to be a parent. I can understand (and have been guilty on occasion of) why parents give in to their preschoolers. The fits that these tiny creatures can throw is beyond the reasonable scope of imagination, and I remember thinking I would never have a child that acted in such a way. But alas, dear Ethan has proved me wrong yet again!
But I am getting stronger in the face of his determination and strength. And what helps me most with that is the simple fact that his understanding and complex thinking skills are becoming more advanced. It opens a range of possibilities for me!
And so here we go. I use the count method. That's a 1 - 2 - 3. If I make it to 3, it's trouble for Ethan. Yesterday, I picked Ethan up from child care. He wanted to slide down the slide a few times; I said okay. When I told him "two more times," he said, "ten more times!" And he was laughing. I said, "two." We counted 1 and 2 and I said, "let's go." He laughed and ran back for the steps. Um. I do not think so, kid!
And so comes the counting. "Ethan Craft. If I get to 3, I'm taking Gordon away for the night." His response? "No!" and continued on his merry little obstinate way. "1 - 2 - 3. Okay. Gordon is getting taken away!" And he didn't care. Little sh*$!
Eventually, I convinced him it was for his own good to come along. However, on the way to the car, he asked me, "You don't have to take Gordon, do you?" My response? "Well, actually, I do. Mommy counted to 3 and you didn't listen. I explained the consequence to you and you made the decision." Let the crying commence.
Eventually, he quit crying, and I pretty well forgot about it by the time we got home. But as we pulled into the garage, Ethan gave me the sure fire sign that his little brain can understand delayed consequence. He said, "You don't have to take Gordon away, Mom." And so I went with it.
What followed was about 30 minutes of off and on crying and screaming. I explained that I understood he was frustrated and that it was okay to be upset. I explained that actions have consequences and by choosing the action he chose, he made the decision to lose Gordon for the night. And when he tearfully asked, "But can I please have him back? I'm sorry." I stood my ground and said, "We can try again tomorrow." This, naturally, was followed by more wales.
We finally got to a point where I very firmly said, "Ethan, I understand that you are upset, and you have the right to be upset, but you made the decision and this is the consequence. Now if you want to continue crying, that's fine; however, you'll need to do it in your room. You apparently need some time to think things over." He shook his head and said, "no," so I picked him up and carried him to his room. He quit crying before we got there.
Funny thing is, if Dad said a word to him, he'd get upset because he didn't want 'dad' to talk to him. He'd hug me and I'd say, "I love you." He'd shake his head no. He wasn't THAT over it. Dad, however, thought I was being just a tad mean with the whole "time to do this in your room" thing.
Later, he wanted to play trains and he said that tomorrow he would have Gordon back. He said, "that's the consequence." And I agreed.
We'll see how it goes today. If 30 minutes of screaming, tantrum-throwing nonsense is what I have to put up with to teach him that actions have consequences, then I'll take it.
That doesn't mean it's easy.