Welcome to Terrible Two Tuesday! I hope you are having a great tantrum free week. Here at the Hickman house we are going onto day three of tears before any sort of sleeping time. As the lets-nip-this-in-the-bud mom I try to be I did a quick "terrible two" swagbucks search.
I found this interesting article.
Now I only got to step one before the idea for this post hit me. The Bribe. The article explains that as parents of toddlers we are feeding the tantrum by bribing our children and in the long run doing more harm than good.
Here is why this stuck out to me.
Two Sunday's ago my husband subbed for our friend's pitcher on their softball team. Just so happened another friend of ours was also there with her fiance, also subbing. We get everyone settled and Kaitlyn notices the play area and wants to go play right now. Just saying no would cause a tantrum for some parents. It started too for me. My answer was, "If you are good while we watch Daddy play softball then we can play after." Our friend's fiance (who is also our friend) said, "Oh the bribing begins." I chuckled and said, "Not really, just rewarding."
The game goes on and Kaitlyn is being really good. Playing with the dirt and rocks, picking them up, moving them around, saying "Big One, Little One" and counting the rocks she finds. Then it happens, a rock goes flying from Kaitlyn's hand. Now she didn't throw it at anything and no one was close by even. I stopped her and reminded her that if she wants to play she had to be good until Daddy was done. I specifically told her, "If you throw a rock again we will not be playing when the game is over." Testing the limits, there goes another rock. I told her, "Do not throw rocks, and we are not playing when Daddy is done." Oh the tears started and sobs for "play" started. I explained to her she didn't listen to Mommy and so you don't get to play. The "I need Daddy"'s started. I then said, "You can ask Daddy when he is done, but I will tell him what happened." This stopped the tears. In her mind she still had a chance to play so she would stop crying - yes, I wanted the tears and impending meltdown to stop for the rest of the game.
This all happened while Keith was pitching the last out. She was so close to getting to go play. Keith comes out, and picks her up. She asks to go play. Before he can open his mouth to say, "in a minute," I tell him that we are not playing tonight and why. We pack everything up, pick up a sobbing Kaitlyn and head off to the car. We go home and by the time we get home the crying ceased and life went on as usual.
So my question - from reading this article and my friend's comment - was I bribing Kaitlyn to behave? I honestly don't think I was. Kaitlyn wanted to play. In order to play she needed to behave. If she did not behave she did not play. I was giving my 2 year old a choice - behave or don't behave. She was going to get rewarded for the good choice. Now had she still gotten to play with not listening to Mommy all we would have been teaching is that you can do whatever you want and still get what you want.
The thing I had to get pass, and get pass quickly, was the thought process "what are people going to think of me if my kid is having a meltdown in public?" It is better for my child (and any child) to stick to our guns. They will be better off in the long run. It is not easy to listen to a crying child, but the crying will stop, eventually. It is important to stick to your guns.